At the fifth session of the 13th National People’s Congress of China held on March 5, 2022, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered a report on the work of the government for the year 2021 on behalf of the State Council. Li’s report ranged from the political achievements of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to the main accomplishments of the government on all major fronts of development including economics, poverty reduction, science and technology, health security, and environmental protection.
Premier Li opened his speech by mentioning the celebration of the centenary of the CPC last year, an unforgettable moment for the Party and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups. China has achieved the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects on schedule and started a new journey toward the second centenary goal of building a modern socialist country in all respects, said Premier Li in the report.
Facing unprecedented challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, the people of China united as one, worked courageously, and pursued economic and social development in a well-coordinated way to accomplish the main targets and tasks for the year and nudge the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) off to a good start. According to Premier Li’s report, the country again secured new and major achievements in overall development despite such troubles.
Among the many major achievements made by the Chinese government, a few areas were particularly impressive to me:
- Economics: The Chinese economy has continued to recover and grow. With GDP growth of 8.1 percent in 2021 resulting in a total of 12.69 million urban jobs added and an average surveyed unemployment rate of 5.1 percent, the consumer price index (CPI) rose by 0.9 percent, according to the report. This is very remarkable considering the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy. While some of the world’s leading economies battle inflation, China is setting new records while maintaining the positive and progressive momentum of its economic growth.
- Science and technology: Many new breakthroughs were made in science and technology. Perhaps the most breathtaking were manned spaceflight and Mars exploration, where China has made great advances.
- Poverty alleviation: Alongside a series of deepened reforms and opening-up policies, China’s total volume of trade in goods grew by 21.4 percent, living standards rose steadily, per capita disposable income increased by 8.1 percent in real terms, and achievements in poverty alleviation were consolidated and further expanded, according to the report.
- Environmental protection: Ecological conservation is being enhanced, according to the report. On September 22, 2020, at the General Debate of the 75th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that China was committed to moving from its carbon peak to carbon neutrality in a much shorter time span than what many developed countries might require thanks to extraordinary efforts from the Chinese people. Meanwhile, China is facing some unprecedented challenges from the rise of unilateralism, protectionism, and anti-globalization, trends that negatively affect global cooperation on climate change. However, China has still managed to make progress on implementing its nationally determined contributions (NDCs) through a series of measures such as adjusting industrial structure, optimizing energy mix, promoting energy saving, improving energy efficiency, leveraging market mechanisms, and increasing carbon sink. The result has been continuous reduction of discharge of major pollutants and a 9.1-percent drop in the average concentration of fine particulate matter in cities at and above the prefecture level, according to the report.
- The fight against COVID-19: The COVID-19 response was pragmatic with over 85 percent of China’s population fully vaccinated. Local outbreaks were handled in an effective and quick manner.
To summarize, according to the report, the Chinese government has managed to overcome adversity to make tremendous achievements. Considering the challenges facing the entire world in the past year related to the COVID-19 pandemic, any achievements did not come easily. The hard work and fighting spirit of the Chinese people again paid off, and the benefits are being shared by the whole world.
The author is a Cameroonian lecturer, research fellow and vice director of the Center for Francophone Studies at the Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University, China.