Since 2000, China has entered a stage where it is comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society that benefits more than one billion people. The goal of building that moderately prosperous society, in all respects, has three basic elements: first, constantly increasing elements of modernisation; second, constantly increasing socialist elements; third, the addition of Chinese cultural elements. The three constitute the goal of the first hundred years of socialist modernisation with unique Chinese characteristics. How did the CPC Party Central Committee set the first 100-year goal? What are the quantitative indicators? And how was it considered? This article evaluates and summarises the building of a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, and this includes the four main goals and indicators, such as economic development, innovation-driven development, the well-being of the people, and natural resources and the environment.
An assessment of economic development goals
China’s economic strength has greatly increased. The nation’s GDP in 2020 is 5.28 times what it was in 2000, surpassing the goal of “quadrupling”, and its average annual growth rate has reached 8.7%, which is also higher than that of the US (1.3%), Japan (0.6%), and the EU (0.9%). China’s contribution to world economic growth has reached about 30 percent, making it the biggest source of vitality for world economic development. China has also built a world-class ultra-large-scale modern city cluster, which has become one of the biggest driving forces for China’s economic development.
An assessment of innovation-driven development goals
China’s ratio of expenditure on R&D to GDP has increased significantly, reaching 2.4% by 2020, but it has failed to achieve its R&D intensity target (2.5%). The number of patent applications has greatly increased; it has leapt forward to become first in the world. The contribution rate of scientific and technological progress to China has increased significantly, and the effect of innovation-driven development has improved. The proportion of the population with fixed-broadband subscriptions has been close to the average level for developed countries, and China has become the world’s largest information society, network society, and digital society. In general, the overall 2020 goals for China’s science and technology development have been successfully achieved.
An assessment of the goals for people’s well-being
The per capita disposable income of residents in China has increased significantly, and based on private consumption in purchasing power parity terms, per capita daily income in China has risen from 2.75 USD to 20.9 USD: it has gone from ranking among the world’s poorest countries to now being considered a middle-income country. The average number of years of education of the working-age population has increased. The volume of new urban employment has increased, far exceeding the targets set in the four “five-year” plans and the rate of China’s contribution to new employment globally has increased to about 30 percent. By 2020, the rural poverty rate has been reduced to zero percent, which means that China has solved the worldwide problem of ecological poverty, put an end to the absolute poverty (which had lasted for thousands of years), and created a miracle in the history of poverty reduction. The participation rate of basic old-age insurance has increased, reaching 1 billion. The average life expectancy has increased from 71.4 years old in 2000 to 77.5 years in 2020, and China has achieved universal access to basic medical and health services, thereby increasing the level of health capital for all.
An assessment of the nation’s natural resources and environmental targets
The amount of cultivated land in China remains stable. Water consumption per 10,000 yuan of GDP continues to fall by a large margin. Energy consumption per unit of GDP has decreased significantly. The proportion of non-fossil energy in primary energy consumption has risen greatly. China’s national carbon intensity (carbon emissions per unit of GDP) has reached the original target ahead of schedule. The rate of China’s forest development growth rate has leapt, and it now ranks among the best in the world. Air quality has improved significantly. Surface water quality has been further improved. The total discharge of major pollutants has been significantly reduced. Generally, the main targets and tasks of ecological and environmental protection in China have been basically fulfilled, and ecological and environmental quality has improved in all aspects.
It is important to note that in 2020, the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic did not prevent China from fully achieving its goal of building a moderately prosperous society by 2020. This is because China was the first country in the world to control the pandemic in the shortest and most effective time, demonstrating the great advantages of the socialist system. China was also the first major economy in the world to resume economic growth, demonstrating the enormous resilience and dynamism of the Chinese economy. It was also the first country in the world to provide funds, materials, technology and testing reagents to countries on a large scale to combat COVID-19, demonstrating China’s determination and confidence in building the global health community and contributing a Chinese solution to global public health governance.
This article is being written following the first 20 years of the 21st century. China has secured an important period, grasping strategic opportunities in order to rapidly achieve moderate prosperity, and it has exceeded the expectations of the Central Committee of the CCP and achieved a historic overall development. These major changes and major progress have enabled China to grow quickly, from world power to world superpower. The process of seeking revitalisation has been synchronised with major global changes, unseen in a century.
As we enter the 21st century, the international community, especially the Western countries led by the United States, has been having several problems with China’s rapid and peaceful development. There have been several arguments against China’s rapid and peaceful development, especially among the Western countries led by the United States. The first is the “China collapse theory”, which has apparently collapsed with the development of China; the second is the “China threat theory” and the “New Cold War theory”; the third is the “China containment theory”. With China’s rapid development, these arguments are becoming more and more prominent, while the “China contribution theory” is becoming louder and louder. Because the development of a country, especially a large country, generates great dependency and positive externalities, and many countries make a large contribution to China. Many facts have shown that China’s development has made a significant contribution to human development in the 21st century. As early as 1956, Chairman Mao Zedong put forward the prophecy of China’s contribution in his article “In Memory of Sun Yat-sen”. He pointed out that in another forty-five years, that is, when we enter the twenty-first century, the outlook of China will be even more drastically changed. China will become a powerful socialist industrial country. This is how China should be, because China is a country with 9.6 million square kilometres of land and a population of 1,400 million people; China should make a greater contribution to mankind.
At the beginning of the 21st century, China began to open to the outside world, participate in economic globalisation and move to the centre of the world stage with its accession to the World Trade Organisation. The relationship between China and the world has changed dramatically. Has China made a greater contribution to humanity since it entered the 21st century? And how has it done so? What does it mean for the world at large? To answer these questions, we have put tremendous effort into nine major contributions to the world. These include eliminating absolute poverty, promoting economic growth, industrialisation, trade growth, increasing global investment, promoting technological innovation, increasing patented inventions, promoting scientific research, developing the green energy, promoting green development, and promoting peaceful development.
Finally, the text summarises that as of 2021, China will have begun a new “Long March” to achieve the goal of its second hundred years: a “Common prosperity society era”, where “people’s lives are more beautiful and happier, the all-round development of people and the common prosperity of all the people have made more obvious substantial progress”. The income level of China’s 1.4 billion people will be higher, the levels of human capital will be higher, public health will be better, human development ability will be higher, and China will become both a middle-income country and one with high human development. Meanwhile, China and the rest of the world will help build an unprecedented community with a shared future for humanity, working together to create a better future for everyone.
Eric Donghao Liu contributed to this article.