China moves swiftly to carry out growth tasks set at two sessions, in show of institutional advantage
Published: Mar 13, 2024 10:32 PM
China trade economy File photo: VCG

China trade economy File photo: VCG

China's State Council, the country's cabinet, has called on all departments and localities to take concrete measures to carry out key development tasks outlined at the just-concluded two sessions, as central government agencies and local governments across the country also moved swiftly to map out plans to meet various targets. 

Coming just a day or two after the two sessions concluded, the prompt responses and concrete plans from Chinese officials at various levels to mobilize the country to meet development objectives for everything from GDP growth to food security to job creation again provide a vivid display of China's efficiency in policymaking and implementation, in stark contrast to the dysfunction in some Western countries, experts said.   

Such a distinctive institutional advantage, coupled with solid economic fundamentals, offers reassurance that China will not only meet its development targets for 2024, but also ensure high-quality development for years to come, despite mounting challenges. And sustained economic growth in China will contribute to global development, rather than hurting other economies as some foreign media suggested, experts noted. 

Swift arrangements

On Tuesday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang presided over a State Council executive meeting, which deliberated and approved arrangements for the State Council's key 2024 tasks, among other things, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

The meeting stressed that the Government Work Report delivered at the second session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, has set the economic and social development objectives and tasks for this year, and more should be done to map detailed measures and policies to implement the key tasks.

On Wednesday, Li made an inspection tour in Beijing, during which he called to earnestly implement the various tasks set during the two sessions and cultivate and strengthen new quality productive forces, while promoting the deep integration of technological innovation and industrial innovation, and accelerate the creation of new drivers and new advantages for high-quality development, according to the China Media Group. 

According to the Government Work Report adopted during the two sessions, China will aim for a GDP growth rate of around 5 percent in 2024 and create more than 12 million new urban jobs, among other goals. It also offered specific policy measures, including the issuance of ultra-long special treasury bonds and development of new quality productive forces, to power the Chinese economy.

"Traditionally, following the two sessions, the State Council holds an executive meeting specifically for implementing the Government Work Report," aiming to make detailed arrangement for carrying out the tasks involving different departments and localities, Li Chang'an, a professor at the Academy of China Open Economy Studies at the University of International Business and Economics, told the Global Times on Wednesday, "this is a very important mission." 

On Wednesday, Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, who is also the head of the office of the Central Financial Commission and secretary of the Central Financial Work Commission, presided over a meeting to learn and implement the spirit of the two sessions, calling for conscientious implementation of the arrangements made by the Government Work Report and effective work in preventing financial risks and supporting high-quality development.

Meanwhile, Chinese central government agencies and local governments have been holding meetings to map out plans to implement key tasks. On Tuesday, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology held a meeting on implementing "the spirit" of the two sessions, vowing to strictly implement the tasks laid out in the Government Work Report.  

The Beijing Municipality also held a similar meeting on Tuesday, which called for full efforts to implement tasks, consolidate and enhance the positive economic recovery, boost market expectations and confidence, and ensure the completion of goals and tasks.

Also on Tuesday, the Communist Party of China Jiangsu Provincial Committee held a meeting, calling for in-depth investigation and research to formulate measures that are practical and feasible in carrying out the task of developing new quality productive forces, which has become a buzzword. 

More than just meetings, many localities have also started major projects. On Wednesday, Beijing's Huairou district commenced 90 major projects, with an investment of 60 billion yuan ($8.34 billion), covering areas such as infrastructure and high-tech. Haikou, in South China's Hainan Province, also kicked off 25 projects on Wednesday, with a total investment of 23.16 billion yuan.

Institutional advantage

These all point to China's institutional advantage of efficient policymaking and implementation, experts noted. 

"China's economic achievements over the past decades show that the Chinese government has a strong ability to understand the actual situation and grasp future development trends. Only with a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses, can China make development plans in line with objective development laws and fine-tune them in accordance to changes in the real conditions," Tian Yun, a Beijing-based economist, told the Global Times. 

Tian noted that China's institutional advantages have helped the country undertake major tasks of national significance and enhance its economic resilience and strength, even as it faced challenges such as the US-provoked trade war against China. 

In stark contrast to China's efficiency, some Western governments, particularly in the US, are plagued by partisan divisions and dysfunctions that mean they cannot make and follow through on long-term development plans, experts noted.

Apart from its institutional advantage, China's economic fundamentals also remain solid, with various indicators in the first two months of 2024 pointing to an accelerating recovery. Most notably, China's trade in goods hit a record high of 6.61 trillion yuan, up 8.7 percent year-on-year, with exports jumping 10.3 percent, beating forecasts. China's consumer price index, which has remained low and sparked foreign media hype, also rose by 0.7 percent in February, signaling improving demand. 

Given such an improvement and a package of forthcoming policy measures, China will be able to meet its annual development goals, economists said. 

"In 2024, although China's economy still faces severe external pressure, if China's fiscal policy intensifies and its monetary policy becomes more flexible, China's 5-percent economic growth target can be achieved, and higher growth is possible," Justin Lin Yifu, dean of the Institute of New Structural Economics at Peking University, said at an event at the institute on Wednesday

Though improving economic conditions in the world's second-largest economy should be good news for the global economy amid a severe downturn, some foreign media outlets, which have been fearmongering about China's "slowdown," have shifted gear to hype "China threat" claims amid improving data. The New York Times on Tuesday asserted that China's surging exports are set to draw a "global backlash" because it puts "jobs around the world in jeopardy."

Such a claim disregards normal market competition principles and ignores the benefits China's upgrading manufacturing sector brings to the world. "For example, Chinese-made electric cars are highly cost-effective, which is why they are popular in overseas markets. This is a natural choice made by consumers," Tian said. 

Moreover, the overall improvement in China's economy also means a greater contribution to global growth, economists said. According to Lin, if China's economy grows by 5 percent, it would contribute about 1 percentage point to the global growth rate and about 30 percent of global expansion.