China Showing Promise
As the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, reviews the country’s achievements during 2018 and set new targets for 2019, the centrality of groundbreaking decisions made at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China continues to be reiterated. For instance, while outlining the continuing and new work plans for ensuring sustainable growth, elimination of poverty, healthcare, protection of environment as also of national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the vision of building China as a moderately prosperous society in all respects remains their running theme.
It is notable to see Premier Li Keqiang’s report on the work of the government underlining the “complicated and challenging domestic and international environment of a kind rarely seen in many years” that explains the context in which China’s leaders have been reorienting efforts from growth to equity and justice. As part of the soft landing of its high growth rates that had once hit as much as 13 percent during the early 1990s and have averaged more than nine percent for the last 40 years, China’s GDP grew at 6.5 percent last year, and the 2019 GDP growth target has been set at 6 to 6.5 percent.
Likewise, as the report on China’s central and local budgets released at the start of the session said, China plans to lower its defense budget by proposing an increase of only 7.5 percent this year compared to its 8.1 percent increase last year. These reflect the unique capability of China’s current leadership to keep the country's economy and military on course reinforcing the lure of state regulation as a preferred model for the 21st century.
While claiming China is and will continue to be a developing country, Premier Li’s report also underlines how the service sector today accounts for over 60 percent of its GDP and how the growth in high-tech industry and equipment manufacturing far outstripped other industries. Modernizing production processes has resulted in China achieving an impressive 3.1 percent cut in its surfer dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions in its per unit of GDP and the target of additional three percent has been set for 2019. This will ensure China’s continued leadership in global climate change mitigation initiatives.
The author is a professor of Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi) and an adjunct senior fellow of the Charhar Institute (Beijing).