Xiconomics in Practice: President Xi puts high-quality devt front and center at two sessions
Unswerving focus
Published: Mar 14, 2023 09:54 PM
A view of the heavy machinery products testing ground of the Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group taken on May 9, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

A view of the heavy machinery products testing ground of the Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group taken on May 9, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

Editor's Note:

Since 2012, China has witnessed an extraordinary economic transition, with historic achievements in all aspects of the economy from its size to quality. Such an unparalleled feat does not just happen, especially during a tumultuous period in the global geo-economic landscape and a tough phase in China's economic transformation and upgrading process. It was Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era that guided the country in overcoming various risks and challenges, and in keeping the China economic miracle alive.

As China embarked on the quest to become a great modern socialist country amid global changes unseen in a century, Xi's economic thought has been and will continue to be the guiding principle for development in China for years to come, and have great significance for the world. What is Xi's economic thought? What does it mean for China and the world? To answer these questions, the Global Times has launched this special coverage on Xi's major economic speeches and policies and how they are put into practice to boost development in China and around the world.

Visitors attend the Achievement Exhibition of China's Trade in Service at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, on September 5, 2022.Photo: Xinhua

Visitors attend the Achievement Exhibition of China's Trade in Service at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, on September 5, 2022.Photo: Xinhua

China's annual two sessions is often viewed as one of the most important political events in the country every year. This year's two sessions, which concluded on Monday, was a particularly crucial and busy one. Its agenda included setting economic and social development goals for the year, approving sweeping reforms for state institutions, as well as electing state leaders.

For people around the world who are keen on grasping the gist of what transpired over the last ten days or so, President Xi Jinping's agenda and major speeches at the two sessions offer the most important insights into the Chinese leader's vision for the nation. 

As the top leader of the country, Xi often visits and holds meetings with national lawmakers and political advisors, and delivers major speeches on key national issues during the two sessions. Since 2013, Xi has participated in 56 such visits and meetings, during which he places emphasis on issues critical to the country's economic and social development that year.

During this year's two sessions, Xi made three such visits and meetings and delivered a speech at the closing meeting of the first session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's national legislature, on Monday morning. On three of the four occasions, the Chinese President focused on economic and social development, specifically China's high-quality development. At the other occasion, at a plenary meeting of the delegation of the People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police Force, Xi stressed enhancing integrated national strategies and strategic capabilities.

The top leader's focus on high-quality development at the two sessions highlighted China's unswerving resolve to improve the quality of its economic and social development after decades of rapid expansion, a transition crucial for China becoming a modern socialist country in all respects amid a slew of risks and challenges. Making such a transition is front and center in China's policymaking this year and beyond, and will carry a profound meaning for all sectors of the Chinese economy and the global economy, national lawmakers, political advisors, and economists said.

High-quality development

When addressing the closing meeting of the first session of the 14th NPC on Monday, Xi said that China will unswervingly advance high-quality development on the new journey of building a great modern socialist country and advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Efforts should be made to effectively upgrade and appropriately expand the economy, and continuously increase the country's economic strength, scientific and technological capabilities, and composite national strength, he said.

This is the second time during the two sessions that Xi has stressed the importance of high-quality development.

On the afternoon of March 5, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, attended a deliberation with his fellow deputies from the Jiangsu Province delegation at the first session of the 14th NPC, during which he stressed that high-quality development is first and foremost in building a modern socialist country in all respects.

Efforts should be made to fully and faithfully apply the new development philosophy on all fronts, and better coordinate the effective upgrade in quality with the appropriate expansion in quantity in economic development, Xi said.

During the meeting, the Chinese president took a special interest in the chips used in cranes built by the Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group (XCMG).

Shan Zenghai, chief engineer at XCMG, told the president that "the 220-ton all-terrain crane, the model you rode in 2017 during your inspection tour of XCMG, can now be 100 percent domestically produced as compared with 71 percent in the past," according to Xinhua.

 "What about the chips in the cranes? Are they also homegrown?" Xi inquired.

Shan offered an affirmative answer.

In a written statement sent to the Global Times, Shan said: "All parts [of the crane] are made in China, completely breaking the curse of 'made in China without [the] core.'" Shan noted that the company always remembers the general secretary's words that "many core technologies cannot be bought" and has been accelerating its efforts in boosting self-reliance and strength in science and technology, and in tirelessly tackling the issue of "bottleneck" problems.

At the meeting, Xi also said speeding up efforts to achieve greater self-reliance and strength in science and technology is the path China must take to advance high-quality development.

Promoting high-quality development is a crucial part of Xi's thought on the economy and has become a top priority for China's economic policymaking in recent years. At this year's two sessions, high-quality development was also the top buzzword. This year's Government Work Report mentioned "quality" 31 times. The sweeping reform plan for China's state institutions, including restructuring the Ministry of Science and Technology and setting up a national financial regulatory administration, is also aimed at building a modern economic system to promote high-quality development. 

"Promoting high-quality development is strategically important as our country is at a critical stage of development as we have arrived at the door of becoming a high-income country. If we are not going to pursue high-quality development now, then we will miss this strategic period," Cao Heping, an economist at Peking University, told the Global Times.

Cao said that the goal of achieving high-quality development is all about putting the people above all else, which is the most important part of Xi's thought on the economy. He added that pursuing high-quality development is the all-encompassing goal for China's policymaking.

Supporting private sector 

A Fuxing bullet train conducts a test run on the new Chengdu-Kunming railway in Mianning county, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, on December 24, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

A Fuxing bullet train conducts a test run on the new Chengdu-Kunming railway in Mianning county, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, on December 24, 2022. Photo: Xinhua

Also in line with his focus on high-quality development, Xi called for the guiding of healthy and high-quality development of the private sector, when he visited national political advisors from the China National Democratic Construction Association and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, who were in attendance at the first session of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), on March 7.

Xi stressed that the CPC Central Committee always stays committed to unswervingly consolidating and developing the public sector of the economy, and at the same time unswervingly encouraging, supporting, and guiding the development of the non-public sector of the economy. The CPC Central Committee always believes that private enterprises and entrepreneurs "belong to our own family," Xi said.

The president's words are particularly inspiring for private sector entrepreneurs who attended the meeting.

"The general secretary actually took time from his busy schedule to attend our joint group meeting. I am deeply touched," Wang Yu, a member of the National Committee of the CPPCC and chairman of Spring Airlines, told the Global Times. Wang was in attendance when the president visited the national political advisors. "The important speech by the general secretary further boosted the confidence of private enterprises."

Cao said that the private sector has been a crucial part of China's economy over the last several decades and is still a crucial part of China's pursuit of high-quality development moving forward. "The private economy is part of the foundation of Chinese society. How can it be left out in China's pursuit of such a big goal?" Cao asked rhetorically.

According to official data, China's private sector contributes more than 50 percent of national tax revenue, more than 60 percent of GDP, and over 70 percent of technological innovations. It also provides more than 80 percent of urban employment and accounts for more than 90 percent of market entities in China.

During the meeting on March 7, Xi also stressed that the pursuit of high-quality development places higher requirements on the private sector. Efforts should be made to unleash the vitality of private investment, and encourage and attract more private capital to take part in the development of major projects and programs in key industrial and supply chains, enabling such capital to make a greater contribution to fostering a new development pattern and promoting high-quality development, Xi said.

Zhu Xiaokun, an NPC deputy and chairman of high-tech manufacturer Tiangong International Co based in Jiangsu, who attended the deliberation on March 5, said that listening to the general secretary's remarks was very encouraging.

"As a representative of a private enterprise, I feel a great honor as well as a great responsibility," he told the Global Times, adding that the company will strive toward breakthroughs in core technologies that are subject to foreign "strangleholds." 

"We will devote ourselves to development and live up to the general secretary's ardent hope," Zhu said.