November 06, 2022

CPC 20th Congress – Laying the Ground For Second Centenary Goal

R Arun Kumar

THE report adopted in the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is a political declaration and a programme of action for the Party to lead the country in securing new successes for socialism with Chinese characteristics. A resolution adopted in the Congress termed the report as ‘a guiding Marxist document’.

Huge democratic exercise went into the preparation of the report, prior to the Congress. In January 2022, the CPC Central Committee decided to extensively seek opinions on topics for the report within the Party, and gather opinions and suggestions from non-CPC personalities. The first drafting committee meeting presided by Xi Jinping, was held in February. 54 institutes under the CPC Central Committee conducted an extensive research on 26 key tasks and prepared 80 research reports. This formed the basis of the draft report presented at the Congress.

For the first time the Party had sought opinions from both within the Party and outside through online platforms. More than 8.54 million suggestions and comments were received online within the stipulated one month – from April 15 to May 16. 1,435 suggestions for revision of the draft report had been sent by local units. More than 4,700 people gave their opinions, after which the Central Committee met on October 9 and finalised the draft that was placed before the 20th Congress. After considering the amendments proposed by the delegates and the discussions in the Congress, the report was unanimously adopted.

The report is titled ‘Hold High the Great Banner of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive in Unity to Build a Modern Socialist Country in All Respects’. Some of the important points that the report discussed were: (i) economic and political challenges that the country had faced and how the Party was able to lead the country tiding over these challenges; (ii) explaining the meaning of what it meant by the second centenary goal and laying down the path to achieve it and (iii) the situation within the Party and how to overcome the weaknesses and further strengthen it.

Discussing about the international situation and the US attempts to ‘contain, blackmail, isolate and exert maximum pressure’ on China, Xi Jinping vowed that China would never bow down to pressure or intimidation. “We have shown a fighting spirit and a firm determination to never yield to coercive power”.

Terming the past five years that were under review as eventful, the report noted that the CPC succeeded in advancing the ‘Five-Sphere Integrated Plan’ – to promote coordinated economic, political, cultural, social, and ecological advancement. It had also stated that the Party was able to ‘promote whole-process people's democracy, develop advanced socialist culture, and improve public well-being’. It was during this period that the first of the two centennial goals of the CPC was achieved – elimination of absolute poverty and progressing towards the establishment of a moderately prosperous society in China by 2021 (coinciding with the centenary of the foundation of the CPC). Now the Party is leading the country to realise its second centennial goal – establishment of a developed, harmonious socialist society in China by 2049 (centenary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China).

The report noted that in the past decade, “China’s GDP has grown from 54 trillion yuan to 114 trillion yuan” accounting for 18.5 per cent of the world economy, which is up 7.2 percentage points from the previous period. China’s per capita GDP has risen from 39,800 yuan to 81,000 yuan. “It ranks first in the world in terms of grain output, and it has ensured food and energy security for its more than 1.4 billion people…China’s manufacturing sector is the largest in the world, as are its foreign exchange reserves”. In this period, China has built the world’s largest networks of high-speed railways and expressways and made major achievements in building airports, ports, and water conservancy, energy, information, and other infrastructure. It has become a major trading partner for more than 140 countries and regions and leads the world in total volume of trade in goods, is a major destination for global investment and a leading country in outbound investment.

In order to develop self-reliance in science and technology, its expenditure on research and development spending rose from 1 trillion yuan to 2.8 trillion yuan, the second highest in the world.

China’s focus on economic growth is not at the cost of human development. The report states that China’s life expectancy has reached 78.2 years, its per capita disposable annual income has risen from 16,500 yuan to 35,100 yuan, and more than 13 million urban jobs have been created each year on average over the past 10 years. It has now the largest education, social security, and healthcare systems in the world. “These achievements have allowed us to make historic strides in making education universally available, bring 1.04 billion people under the coverage of basic old-age insurance, and ensure basic medical insurance for 95 per cent of the population. More than 42 million housing units in urban areas and more than 24 million dilapidated rural houses have been rebuilt, marking a significant improvement in housing conditions in both urban and rural areas. The number of internet users has reached 1.03 billion”.

However, the report also notes that all things are not rosy. “Imbalances and inadequacies in development remain a prominent problem. There are many bottlenecks hindering high-quality development, and China’s capacity for scientific and technological innovation is not yet strong enough”.

The report declared that ‘from this day’, the central task of the Communist Party of China will be to “lead the Chinese people of all ethnic groups in a concerted effort to realise the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects and to advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernisation”.

The report explains what it means by building a ‘great modern socialist country’: “Chinese modernisation is socialist modernisation pursued under the leadership of the Communist Party of China. It contains elements that are common to the modernisation processes of all countries, but it is more characterised by features that are unique to the Chinese context”.

The report notes that as this process involves the modernisation of a huge population – 1.4 billion – which is more than the combined population of the entire developed world, this task would be complex and difficult. So, the “pathways of development and methods of advancement will be unique” and hence the CPC will march by taking ‘China’s realities in mind’. It states that it would not pursue any ‘grandiose goals’ or ‘go by the rulebook’. “We will stay patient in advancing the course of history and take steady and incremental steps to sustain progress…The immutable goal of our modernisation drive is to meet the people’s aspirations for a better life. We will endeavor to maintain and promote social fairness and justice, bring prosperity to all, and prevent polarisation”.

It further defines its efforts as not only working towards material advancement, but also involves ‘cultural-ethical advancement’. “Material abundance and cultural-ethical enrichment are fundamental goals of socialist modernisation. Material want is not socialism, nor is cultural impoverishment. While continuing to consolidate the material foundation for modernisation and improve the material conditions for people’s wellbeing, we will strive to develop advanced socialist culture, foster strong ideals and convictions, and carry forward China’s cultural heritage. We will thus promote all-around material abundance as well as people’s well-rounded development”.

The CPC report states that its drive for modernisation will be in perfect ‘harmony between humanity and nature’. “Humanity and nature make up a community of life. If we extract from nature without limit or inflict damage on it, we are bound to face its retaliation”.

On the question of the costs of modernisation, the report unequivocally states that it would be peaceful. “China will not tread the old path of war, colonisation, and plunder taken by some countries. That brutal and blood-stained path of enrichment at the expense of others caused great suffering for the people of developing countries. We will stand firmly on the right side of history and on the side of human progress. Dedicated to peace, development, cooperation, and mutual benefit, we will strive to safeguard world peace and development as we pursue our own development, and we will make greater contributions to world peace and development through our own development”.

The CPC report notes that the essential requirements of Chinese modernisation are: “upholding the leadership of the Communist Party of China and socialism with Chinese characteristics, pursuing high-quality development, developing whole-process people’s democracy, enriching the people’s cultural lives, achieving common prosperity for all, promoting harmony between humanity and nature, building a human community with a shared future, and creating a new form of human advancement”.

In order to realise its second centenary goal, it has adopted a two-step strategic plan: basically realise socialist modernisation from 2020 through 2035 and two, build China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful from 2035 through the middle of this century.

The objectives set for the year 2035 are:

  • Significantly increase economic strength, scientific and technological capabilities, and composite national strength; substantially grow the per capita GDP to be on par with that of a mid-level developed country.
  • Join the ranks of the world’s most innovative countries, with great self-reliance and strength in science and technology.
  • Build a modernised economy; form a new pattern of development; basically achieve new industrialisation, informatisation, urbanisation, and agricultural modernisation.
  • Modernise the system and capacity for governance; improve the system for whole-process people’s democracy; build a law-based country, government, and society.
  • Become a leading country in education, science and technology, talent, culture, sports, and health; significantly enhance national soft power.
  • Ensure that the people are leading better and happier lives; bring per capita disposable income to new heights; substantially grow the middle-income group as a share of the total population; guarantee equitable access to basic public services; ensure modern standards of living in rural areas; achieve long-term social stability; make more notable and substantive progress in promoting the people’s well-rounded development and prosperity for all.
  • Broadly establish eco-friendly ways of work and life; steadily lower carbon emissions after reaching a peak; fundamentally improve the environment; largely accomplish the goal of building a beautiful China.
  • Comprehensively strengthen the national security system and national security capabilities; achieve basic modernisation of national defense and the armed forces.

After achieving these objectives by 2035, basing on this foundation, it would “work hard and build China into a great modern socialist country” by 2049. This can be achieved only by further strengthening the CPC and overcoming the weaknesses identified in its work.