At the opening of the Fourth Session of the 12th National People's Congress on March 5, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered the Government Work Report. While reviewing China's economic and social development in 2015, the report put forward targets and tasks for 2016 as well as the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period.
Annual growth target: 6.5 percent or above
China must achieve an annual economic growth rate of at least 6.5 percent in the next five years in order to realize the goal of doubling the 2010 GDP and per-capita personal income by 2020. This is also required for China to overcome the middle-income trap, another pivotal task during the period of the 13th Five-Year Plan. If the country's economy grows at 6.5 percent or above, annually, on average during that period, China will be able to take a historic leap to join the ranks of high-income countries.
"Rather than adopting strong stimulus policies that would have an economy-wide impact, we continued to move forward with structural reform [in 2015]," Premier Li said in his report. The agenda for 2016 and the period from 2016 to 2020 also underscores the importance of structural reform, especially supply-side structural reform. An improved supply environment will help make supply more robust, efficient and better structured, thus increasing the stability, coordination and sustainability of economic growth.
Debut of a "new economy"
The "new economy" comprises new industries, technologies and forms of business that have emerged under the Internet Plus strategy, which calls for the penetration of the Internet into all industries. This concept has not only unleashed existing productive forces, but also fostered new growth engines. As it seeks to surmount obstacles, China must speed up structural adjustments while exploring new areas of growth. These initiatives will enable the Chinese economy to register long-term, stable growth with a higher quality and enhanced efficiency.
Poverty reduction always features prominently in Li's annual government work reports. He also stresses the supervision, inspection and third-party evaluation of poverty alleviation programs. Unlike previous ones, the ongoing campaign aims to lift all those living under the poverty line out of poverty without exceptions. China is giving top priority to poverty alleviation as it strives to accomplish the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. The high political attention China has given to poverty reduction is rarely seen in other countries.
Making "Made in China" shine
Premier Li has long been known as an advocate of China's high-speed rail technology, a symbol of the country's manufacturing prowess. But high-speed rail is only part of the story. Chinese manufacturers are also striving to excel in a wider spectrum ranging from technology and standards to services.
A new round of opening up
The China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative presents opportunities to both China and the rest of the world. It will deliver shared benefits to countries along the routes and far beyond.
Blue sky, green land and clear water
Effectively dealing with smog and water pollution has topped many local governments' agendas. A number of state leaders have made research trips to areas severely polluted by heavy industry, such as Hebei Province. This year's Government Work Report envisions a "beautiful China where the sky is blue, the land is green and the water is clear," illustrating the government's determination to take a path that leads to both economic development and improvement of the environment.
A law-based, innovative, clean and service-oriented government
The guidelines on building a law-based government issued by the Central Government at the end of 2015 put forward overall plans for efforts in this regard through 2020. By reaffirming this goal, the Government Work Report showed that a law-based, innovative, clean and service-oriented government is not only what the government aspires to turn itself into but also where public interest lies in.
Improving people's lives and addressing their concerns
China will implement a more proactive employment policy and encourage business startups that create employment. It aims to realize full coverage of the serious disease insurance scheme to reduce more patients' financial burdens. It will also continue to raise basic pension benefits for retirees. All these statements exemplify the government's concern about people's livelihoods and commitment to taking concrete measures to accomplish various targets.
Conducting diplomacy with the vision and responsibility of a major country
President Xi Jinping visited the Middle East in early 2016 during his first trip overseas this year. China will also host the G20 Summit in Hangzhou later this year. While China becomes a more active player on the global stage, challenges still abound. It will continue to practice its diplomatic vision when coping with issues such as China-Japan relations, the South China Sea and North Korea's nuclear program.
Copyedited by Mara Lee Durrell
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