Xi Jinping's first speech in Two Sessions
On self-reliance in S&T, GDP, agriculture, education, etc.
It's the annual "Two Sessions" time in China. Yesterday, GRR published a piece including the key points of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's government work report, the report on China's central and local budgets, and the report on China's national economic and social development plan, with all the full-text documents uploaded to Google Drive for you to download.
Today’s piece focuses on a deliberation of the delegation of Jiangsu Province at the first session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) [Video], which Xi Jinping attended as a deputy. Jiangsu Province is also my hometown, and I found it interesting to see my high school physics teacher Li Hongbin participating in the meeting as a deputy.
Of course, today's focus is still on Xi Jinping. Let's see what important remarks Xi made while attending the deliberation with his fellow deputies from the delegation of Jiangsu Province on Sunday afternoon. Xinhua published a readout on Sunday. Then Xinhua and the People's Daily published some other stories on Monday with more details about the remarks Xi made in the deliberation as well as his interactions with other deputies.
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Let’s start with the readout published on Sunday. The readout [Chinese] [English] summarized the important points made by Xi in the lede. The theme is high-quality development.
President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, stressed that high-quality development is the top priority in building China into a modern socialist country in all respects.
Xi stressed that we must fully and faithfully apply the new development philosophy on all fronts, and as far as understanding, assessing and promoting development is concerned, we must make sure that the development is innovative, coordinated, green, open and for everyone in a well-integrated manner. A better balance must be maintained between effective rise in quality and reasonable growth in quantity, with quality first and priority given to economic and social benefits. We need to raise awareness of quality, and regard quality as precious as life to pursue higher quality. We must stay committed to deepening reform and opening up, further transform the growth model, and work for better quality with higher efficiency and more robust drivers of economic growth through reform, so as to accelerate the development of institutions and mechanisms for sustainable high-quality development. Our ultimate goal is to meet people's increasing expectation for a better life, so it is important to transform the achievements of development into quality of life so as to constantly increase people's sense of fulfillment, happiness, and security.
On Jan. 19, 2023, it was announced that Xi Jinping was elected from east China's Jiangsu Province as a deputy to the 14th NPC. Xi was elected from north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to the 13th NPC. Analysts said that Xi's election in Jiangsu as a deputy to the 14th NPC reflects the emphasis from the nation's top leadership on advancing the Chinese path to modernization, furthering the integrated growth of the Yangtze River Delta and ensuring self-reliance in science and technology, China Daily reported.
According to the Election Law of China, deputies to the NPC shall be elected by the people's congresses of the provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government and by the People's Liberation Army. When a local people's congress at or above the county level is to elect deputies to the people's congress at the next higher level, the nominees for deputies shall not be limited to the current deputies to the lower people's congress. [See GRR's explainer on China's People's Congress System for more details on the election system]
According to the readout, six deputies shared their opinions on various issues in the delegation's panel deliberation:
The atmosphere was warm and serious in the delegation's panel deliberation. Deputies Xu Kunlin, Liu Qing, Shan Zenghai, Wei Qiao, Zhang Dadong and Wu Qingwen shared their opinions on how to serve the fostering of a new development pattern, how to vigorously promote coordinated innovation across regions, how to develop a stronger manufacturing industry, how to be "new farmers" of the times, how to cultivate talents for the Party, and how to be the pacemaker of the Chinese path to modernization. Xi would often make remarks between their speeches and compare notes with other deputies.
Jiangsu, with a population of 85.15 million by the end of last year, has long been one of China's manufacturing hubs and powerhouses for international trade. The province's GDP, which reached 12.29 trillion yuan ($1.78 trillion) in 2022, took up one-tenth of the nation's total, with its foreign trade volume accounting for 12.9 percent of the national total. [See GRR's previous article Top dogs, rat race, leapfrogging -- A look behind provincial GDP figures in China for more details.]
After summarizing the deputies’ topics, the readout continues with Xi’s comments on Jiangsu Province:
Having listened carefully to the deputies, Xi made a speech. He said that, first of all, he thought well of the Report on the Work of the Government, and affirmed the achievements that Jiangsu has made over the past five years in various areas including social and economic development as well as Party building. He said he hoped that Jiangsu would continue to forge ahead with solid efforts and take the lead on the journey of high-quality development, so as to make a good start for the new chapter of Jiangsu's modernization drive featuring strong economy, prosperity for residents, beautiful environment and developed culture and ethics, and make new and greater contributions to the overall development of the country.
Then this is the part where Xi lists the major tasks of "speeding up efforts to achieve greater self-reliance and strength in science and technology (S&T)" and says it is "the path China must take to advance high-quality development”:
Xi pointed out that speeding up efforts to achieve greater self-reliance and strength in science and technology is the path we must take to promote high-quality development. Facing fierce global competitions, we must open up new areas and new tracks in development and foster new growth drivers and new strengths, which, fundamentally, depends on sci-tech innovation.
Whether we will be able to finish building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects as scheduled or not depends on whether we can achieve self-reliance and strength in science and technology.
We must adhere to the principles of targeting global scientific and technological frontiers, serving the economy, meeting major national needs and striving to improve people's lives and health ("Principles of Four Targets" “四个面向”). We must accelerate the implementation of the innovation-driven development strategy, promote in-depth cooperation between industries, universities and research institutes, and intensify efforts to develop major platforms for sci-tech innovation. We must support top scientists to take the lead in conducting original and pioneering scientific and technological research in order to achieve breakthroughs and overcome difficulties in core technologies in key fields, so as to ensure that key areas and links can fall within our own hands.
We must strengthen the dominant position of enterprises, promote deeper integration of the innovation, industrial, capital and talent chains, give full play to the guiding and supporting role of key high-tech enterprises, and promote healthy development of micro, small and medium-sized technological enterprises. We must constantly promote the transformation and industrial application of scientific research and technological development results, so as to build a center for industrial and sci-tech innovation with global competitiveness.
We need to deepen reform of science and technology system, vigorously foster a culture of innovation, and perfect the system for appraisal of science and technology and the incentive mechanism, so as to create an enabling environment for innovative personnel to stand out and give full play to their talents.
It is worth noting that 信长星 Xin Changxing, secretary of the CPC Jiangsu Provincial Committee, has his latest voice in a symposium on March 2, with academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering in Jiangsu, stressing the need to serve the country with science and technology and contribute wisdom and power to promote the new practice of the Chinese path to modernization in Jiangsu.
许昆林 Xu Kunlin, governor of Jiangsu Province, published a signed article in 学习时报 Xuexishibao, a newspaper ran by the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, on Feb. 27, aiming at Jiangsu to take the lead in the overall improvement of economic performance and strive to contribute more to national development.
Now back to Xi's remarks. He stressed that accelerating the establishment of a new development pattern is the strategic priority in pursuing high-quality development.
Xi pointed out that accelerating the creation of a new development pattern is the strategic foundation for promoting high-quality growth. We should make sure that our implementation of the strategy to expand domestic demand is integrated with our efforts to deepen supply-side structural reform, and move faster to modernize the industrial system.
In pursuing economic growth, we must continue to focus on the real economy. We need to advance new industrialization, intensify efforts to re-engineer the industrial foundation and tackle key issues in major technologies and equipment, so as to make the manufacturing sector high-end, smarter, and greener. We should move faster to build up Jiangsu's strength in manufacturing, vigorously develop strategic emerging industries, and accelerate the development of the digital economy.
We should, in accordance with the requirements of building a high-standard socialist market economy and promoting high-standard opening up, deepen reform in key areas, make coordinated efforts to put in place a modern infrastructure system and a high-standard market system, and steadily expand institutional opening up.
The readout continues with Xi’s speech on building up strength in agriculture, an essential requirement for achieving high-quality development.
Xi emphasized that strong agriculture is the foundation of a strong modern socialist country, and promoting agricultural modernization is a prerequisite for achieving high-quality development.
We should safeguard the red line of 120 million hectares of farmland, keep sown area at a stable level, increase the area of high-standard cropland, and secure the stable and safe supply of grain and important agricultural products.
We should take industrial development as the top priority of rural revitalization, actively extend and expand the agricultural industry chain, cultivate and develop new industries and new forms of business in rural areas, so as to create more channels for farmers to increase their incomes.
We should optimize the layout of townships and villages, coordinate the development of rural infrastructure and public service system, carry out in-depth actions to improve rural living environment, and speed up the building of a beautiful and harmonious countryside that is desirable to live and work in.
We should leverage the strengths of science and technology and reform to advance reform of the rural land system, consolidate and improve the basic rural operation system, develop new rural collective economies, cultivate new types of agribusiness and commercial agricultural services, and support appropriately scaled agricultural operations, so as to inject momentum and vitality into the agricultural and rural development.
China unveiled its "No. 1 central document" for 2023 on Feb. 13, outlining nine tasks for comprehensively promoting rural vitalization this year.
Xi then said that the happiness and well-being of the people are the ultimate goals of promoting high-quality development:
Xi pointed out that promoting high-quality development is for the wellbeing of the people. Primary-level governance and livelihood support concern people's immediate interests, and are thus a foundation-laying work for promoting common prosperity and achieving a high quality of life. Party committees and governments at all levels must bear this in mind, do the work well all the times and make sure that achievements are made in this regard.
They should improve the mechanism for community-level self-governance guided by primary-level Party organizations, strengthen the development of grassroots-level organizations, and perfect the platform for primary-level governance featuring grid-based management, meticulous services and information technology support. They should also improve the governance system for urban and rural communities to bring high-quality service and detailed management to the doorsteps of the people.
They should carry on and develop the "Fengqiao Experience" in the new era, improve the mechanism for appropriately handling disputes among the people under new circumstances to timely defuse them at grassroots level and initial stage. They should focus on the most pressing difficulties and problems that are of great concern to the people, take more measures that can improve people's livelihood and warm the cockles of their hearts, refine the basic public service system, make an effort to support employment of key groups, adjust income distribution, improve the social security system and boost the service for the elderly and the children.
Fengqiao in eastern China was celebrated for its community-level social governance in the 1960s. The "Fengqiao Experience" is still regarded as the benchmark for resolving social disputes.
Xi also talked about the COVID-19 prevention and control work in the new phase:
Practical and targeted efforts should be made for the control and prevention of the COVID-19 epidemic in the new phase, and every measure must be taken to manage COVID-19 as a Class B infectious disease. Efforts should be made to persistently strengthen the development of public health system, disease control and prevention system, and healthcare service system.
The last part of the readout is about upholding and strengthening the Party's overall leadership. Xi said that he put forward "exercising full and strict governance over the Party" for the first time during his inspection in Jiangsu in 2014, according to the People's Daily.
Lastly, Xi stressed that, to promote high quality development, the overall leadership of the Party must be upheld, and full and strict governance over the Party must be exercised in a steadfast manner.
Party committees at all levels must take their due responsibilities for full and strict governance over the Party, take practical steps in further studying, publicizing and applying the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress, strengthen team building of leaderships and officials at all levels after the change of office terms, reinforce Party building on all fronts, carry out thematic education on thoroughly learning and putting into practice the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, in order to provide staunch political guidance and political guarantee for us to forge ahead in the new journey and make contributions in the new era.
Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang and He Lifeng were present.
Some highlights of the details about Xi's remarks in other stories published by Xinhua and the People's Daily on Monday:
On manufacturing industry -- Xinhua
President Xi Jinping on Sunday said the manufacturing industry is an indispensable sector to China at all times.
Currently, China's manufacturing industry boasts a complete range of sectors and categories, said Xi.
China will strive to develop high-end manufacturing to realize all-around improvement, and provide full support for its development, he said.
On children's confidence in socialism with Chinese characteristics -- Xinhua
Educators of the new era should strive to nurture a new generation of capable young people to develop socialism with Chinese characteristics and carry forward the socialist cause, Xi said.
He noted that China's education ought to draw fine contents from the 5,000-year Chinese culture and be inclusive to the achievements of Western civilizations.
A feature by Xinhua includes more details of Xi's remarks on his hope of Jiangsu Province taking the lead on the journey of high-quality development, manufacturing industry, agricultural modernization, green development, and education.
Some details on Xi's remarks reported in the People's Daily article also caught my attention:
Xi warned, "We should never take hasty measures, 'kill the goose that lays the golden eggs', or focus entirely on GDP."
On the new CPC leadership team
Xi Jinping mentioned the 20th CPC Central Committee 2nd plenary session that was held days ago. He said, "At the time, I said that a new team had been formed, and we must be cautious not to act without following the rules, to be hurried for immediate success, or to be eager to deliver results. We must overcome this rash mentality and hasty attitude and carry out modernization construction in a steady and practical manner ..."
On new industries and new forms of business in rural areas
Xi noted reading a document regarding "building a group of essential 'one county, one industry' bases." He stated, "I frowned as I read it. Setting goals for this type of thing is difficult. Can a country's development be based only on one industry? Instead of merely throwing money at it, we need to perform extensive research. If one location is dedicated to growing chicken farming or mushroom cultivation while another is completely focused on textile manufacture, it will inevitably fail."
Lastly, some useful tweets about the "Two Sessions":