President Xi Jinping set a new goal during his inspection visit to Heilongjiang Province, northeast China, from September 6 to 8: to integrate the resources of technological innovation and pioneer the development of strategic emerging industries and industries of the future, so as to accelerate the formation of new, high-quality productive forces. But this goal not only applies to Heilongjiang; it goes for the country at large.
According to Marxist theory, the productive force is the combined power of labor and the means of production (resources such as land, factories and raw materials) to produce goods and services. It is the ability to create wealth as well as the basic driving force for social development.
The economic and social development before and after China adopted its pioneering reform and opening-up policy in the late 1970s shows a striking contrast between productive forces in the two stages. This contrast shows that productive forces are closely related to the economic system, the level of technology, and the means of production.
After four decades of reform and opening up, China is once again entering a critical period of taking its productive forces to the next level. New developments in China's economic landscape call for higher levels of productive forces, which must be achieved through more highly skilled labor and more technologically advanced means of production. Traditional production, based on an enormous consumption of limited and non-renewable resources, can no longer sustain today's economic and social development. At this crucial point in time, Xi has proposed to accelerate the formation of new forms of productivity.
In his speeches during the Heilongjiang tour, Xi emphasized that China must cultivate strategic emerging industries, such as new energy, new materials, advanced manufacturing, electronic information technology, among others, and industries of the future to foster new drivers of growth.
From this, it can be deduced that the emerging industries and the industries of the future are the main targets of the proposed new, high-quality productive forces. Technological innovation plays a dominant role in this new model, which is characterized by high efficiency and radically differs from the previous energy-intensive production model.
China is entering a new stage of growth that focuses on high-quality development. Chinese society is embracing innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, and the traditional productive forces are no longer able to meet the demands of this new concept. Therefore, new, high-quality productive forces are of the essence.
At the same time, there is a risk that coordination among major countries will be replaced by competition as China faces technological blockades and investment restrictions from developed countries. So it's important to find new ways to promote economic and social progress. China can gain new competitiveness and sustainable momentum for its economic growth by accelerating the formation of new productive forces.
Laying a solid foundation for the formation of new quality productivity, science and technology are increasingly contributing to China's industrial development. The Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) for National Economic and Social Development and Vision 2035, a document that clarifies China's strategic intentions and the government's priorities, points out China will nurse industries of the future based on cutting-edge technologies such as brain-like intelligence, quantum information, genetic technology, future network, deep-sea and aerospace exploration, hydrogen energy and energy storage.
Establishing the technological foundation for future development represents an important strategic opportunity for China. If China wants to put quality over quantity, cultivate new competitive advantages and accelerate its industrial transformation, doing so is also a must.
(Print Edition Title: Quality Over Quantity)
Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon
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