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China’s Two Centenary Goals: Strategies Ahead


Professor Tang Jun

Around 120 years ago, the Treaty of 1901, the Peace Agreement between the Great Powers and China was signed on July 7th, 1901. It was also known as The Boxer Protocol, or Xinchou Treaty in China, in which the Chinese Qing government was forced to pay 450 million tales of silver (approximately equal to US$7 billion today)to the eight nations involved. The Qing government was also to allow the foreign countries to base their Chinese recent history. The signing of the treaty resulted in the collapse of the Chinese Qing government and contributed to the demise of the Qing Dynasty.(Figure 1)

The signing of the Treaty of 1901( Source: Internet)

Almost 120 years later, on October 1st, 2021, the world will witness the 72nd anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, which has shown the world that the nation has achieved a tremendous transformation from standing up and growing prosperous to becoming a great power in the world. Over the past 120 years, China has become the second-largest economy, China is the second-largest economy in terms of nominal GDP and the largest in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) GDP. A united, stable, and prosperous China is proudly embarking on a new journey toward brighter development prospects.

The year 2021 also marks a unique milestone to China since it is also the 100 anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), who is motivated to embark on a new journey of fully building a modern socialist country. “China has realized the first centenary goal — building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. This means that we have brought about a historic resolution to the problem of absolute poverty in China, and we are now marching in confident strides toward the second centenary goal of building China into a great modern socialist country in all respects.”, said the Chinese president Xi Jinping when addressing a ceremony marking the centenary of the CPC in Beijing on July 1, 2021.

100th -anniversary celebration of CPC in Beijing, China (Source: Xinghua)

When the world is surprised by the soaring pace of Chin’s rise, China has long been determined to bring the nation to the leading power of the globe through a series of strategies and prospects.

In November 2012, CPC put forward the Two Centenary Goals at China’s 18th National Congress. The two goals are to complete a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the centenary of the CPC (founded in 1921) and to build China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious by the centenary of the People’s Republic of China (founded in 1949).

The Two Centenary Goals are to be fulfilled by the years 2021 and 2049.  As Chairman Xi Jinping declared that the first centenary goal has been achieved, China is on the way to the second centenary goal, which is planed within two stages.

In the first stage, from 2020 to 2035, China will build on the foundation of a moderately prosperous society with 15 more years to ensure that socialist modernization is basically achieved.

In the second stage, from 2035 to the middle of the 21st century, having achieved basic modernization, China will spend 15 more years and develop itself into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful.

It will be a great challenge for China to achieve the second centenary goal. The global frequent changes and Covid-19 have brought the world into a phase of fluidity and transformation. Instability and uncertainty are clearly on the rise. The globe is suffering various deficits on growing governance, mutual trust, regional development, and peace. The new era that China is facing is a challenging one as well as a promising one. How will China realize it’s second centenary goal under this background?

 Economy Transforming strategy

Since the Reform and Opening Up Policy conducted by the Chinese government in the 1980s, China’s economy has developed rapidly. China is to adjust its economic model to a high-quality one by transforming the growth model and economic structure. With the philosophies of Four-pronged Comprehensive Strategy, i.e., to make comprehensive moves to complete a moderately prosperous society in all respects, to further reform, to advance the rule of law, and to strengthen Party self-governance, and the Five-sphere Integrated Plan, i.e., to promote coordinated progress in the economic, political, cultural, social and eco-environmental fields, China aims to build an industrial system that promotes coordinated development of industrialization, IT application, urbanization, and agricultural modernization.

Innovation-driven Strategy

Innovation is the primary driving force behind development; it is the strategic underpinning for building a modernized economy for a nation.

China has made many significant sci-tech achievements in recent years, from quantum information, stem cells and brain science to outer space exploration, such as the landings on the moon and Mars. At the same time, China’s high-end industries, including large passenger aircraft and magnetic-levitation train manufacturing, as well as artificial intelligence, digital economy, 5G and electric vehicles, are thriving.

Yet China is not strong enough in terms of basic research and still relies on imports for certain state-of-the-art technologies and high-end products such as microchips.

Dual Circulation Strategy

In May 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed a new economic model, the “dual circulation strategy”(DCS), at a Politburo meeting, when China and the rest of the world are suffering from the COVID-19 outbreak.  DCS means that China intends to develop both its domestic and international economies effectively and bring multiple wins across its economic territories.

It seeks to spur China’s domestic demand while simultaneously developing conditions to facilitate foreign investment and boost production for exports. The two-pronged strategy refers to the parallel emphasis on an “internal circulation” and an “international circulation”, and a shift towards becoming a demand and innovation-driven economy.

Xi Jinping is putting forward a new growth model of “dual circulation” on May, 14th, 2020.

For domestic circulation, China will deepen its supply-side structural reform and innovate its modes of production to provide high-quality products and services. Other measures include rectifying resource misallocation and allowing the financial sector to better serve the real economy.

Meanwhile, the country will strive to become a strong magnet for global resources and production factors, promote the coordinated development of domestic and external demand, imports and exports, as well as foreign and outbound investment.

Making the domestic market the mainstay does not mean China is developing its economy with the door closed. By giving full play to the potential of the domestic market, both domestic and foreign markets can be better connected and utilized to realize robust and sustainable development. China will promote the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment and steadily advance institutional openness, which stresses rule-based, transparent regulatory models and a business environment that better aligns with international norms.

 Regional Development Strategy

The strategy includes advancing development in the western region, revitalizing the northeastern region, energizing the central region, integrating the development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the development of the Yangtze Economic Belt, the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta, and the planning and building of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Beijing Daxing International Airport serves passengers from across the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. (Source: Xinghua News)

To promote coordinated regional development, China will put mechanisms to remove barriers between urban and rural areas and enhance the level of equal access to basic public services to boost domestic demand.

The country will also address the infrastructural gap between the eastern and western regions that hinders coordinated development. To this end, support for the western region will be intensified to build more railways and graded highways and improve the internet penetration rate.

From a broader perspective, China’s Belt and Road Initiative is also part of this strategy to promote economic integration and interconnected development of all countries in the region and area.

Over the past centuries, China has been through hardships and adversity but remains indomitable. The people have never been daunted in the face of difficulties or obstacles, and they have well prepared to embark on a journey to the second Centenary Goals to make China a prosperous modern country and finally realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.

*The writer is Director of Pakistan Research Center, Inner Mongolia Honder College of Arts and Sciences, China


The Diplomatic Insight is a digital and print magazine focusing on diplomacy, defense, and development since 2009.

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