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Speech by Chargé d'Affaires and Minister Yang Xiaoguang at the Online Briefing on "Two Sessions" 2021: New Vision, New Blueprint and New Opportunities
Chinese Embassy in the UK, 30 March 2021
2021/03/31

Sir Sherard,

Chairman Fang,

Chairman Perry,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning!

It is a real delight to join you, friends from the Chinese and British business communities, at this online event and talk about the most important annual political agenda in China known as the “two sessions”.

The “two sessions” refer to the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. They are major political events and open a window through which the international community can learn more about China.

The past year was extraordinary in the history of New China. In the face of the sudden outbreak of Covid-19 and deep global recession, the Chinese people rose to the challenge and stood the test under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core.

  • We achieved strategic success in epidemic prevention and control;
  • We were the only major economy in the world to realize positive growth;
  • We won a complete victory in the battle against poverty;
  • And we scored decisive achievements in building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects.

This year’s “two sessions” deliberated on and adopted the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.

This document is a guideline for China’s new journey of building a modern socialist country in a comprehensive way and realizing the second centenary goal. It also maps out China’s economic and social development in the coming five years and beyond.

I would like to use this opportunity to take you through the main content of this important document.

First, high-quality development.

This means that China will focus on innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development. We will strive for comprehensive progress in economic, political, cultural and social endeavor and ecological conservation.

There will be no specific GDP target for the coming five years, that is, from 2021 to 2025. Instead, the emphasis is on “a reasonable range for growth rate and an annual target to be decided on a yearly basis”. This shows that higher priority is given to the quality and efficiency of development.

While working on the potential of our huge domestic market, China will coordinate these efforts with expanding international trade. Vigorous domestic circulation will be a powerful magnet to global production factors and resources, and this will enable domestic and international circulations to reinforce each other.

Our goal is to basically achieve socialist modernisation and catch up with medium-level developed countries in per capita GDP by 2035.

Second, scientific and technological innovation and cooperation.

Innovation will be the primary driving force for development and play a central role in China’s modernisation drive.

China will work to improve its capability of independent innovation. We plan to increase annual spending on R&D by at least 7% in the next five years. This will allow us to focus on achieving more breakthroughs in cutting-edge technologies such as the new generation of artificial intelligence, quantum information, genetic and biological technology, clinical medicine and health care.

China will implement a more open, inclusive, win-win and sharing strategy for international cooperation on science and technology. We will strengthen joint R&D and cooperation with other countries in key areas such as climate change and public health.

Third, green development.

Lucid waters and lush mountains are as precious as mountains of gold and silver. This is our belief and we want to build China into a beautiful country. To this end, we will promote a full transition to green economic growth and social progress, and strengthen energy conservation, environmental protection, clean production and clean energy industries.

By 2025, China will reduce CO2 emissions per unit GDP by 18% and increase forest coverage to 24.1%. Later this year, China will roll out an action plan for peaking CO2 emissions before 2030. This will be a concrete step to deliver China’s solemn pledge, which also includes achieving carbon neutrality before 2060.

Fourth, a better life for the people.

People’s wellbeing is always at the centre of China’s development blueprint. In the coming five years, China will strengthen public services that cover everyone, reach the grass-root level and meet subsistence needs of the most difficult households. This will make sure that benefits of our country’s development will be shared by the entire population.

This means we must take steady steps to build a high quality education system. It means adopting comprehensive measures to build a healthy China with a well-rounded public health system, a better network of medical care in both urban and rural areas and increased life expectancy by one year. This also means improving the multi-layered social security system and increasing the basic pension coverage to 95%. All these efforts will give the people a higher sense of gains and happiness.

Fifth, greater openness at a higher level.

China will be more open in the 14th Five Year Plan period. Our new development paradigm, known as dual circulation, is an open model that bridges domestic and international markets and enables the two to reinforce each other.

We will build a new and open economic system at a higher level, advance high-quality cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, and expand the global network of high-standard free trade areas. We will deepen government reforms by streamlining administration, delegating power, improving regulation and upgrading services so as to foster a high-standard business environment at home. At the same time, we will firmly uphold the multilateral trade system and deepen multilateral, bilateral and regional economic cooperation.

China in the new development stage is like an express train with a more powerful engine and greater capacity. This express train is picking up speed and running towards new goals. We hope other countries will join us on the journey towards common prosperity.

From the first Five Year Plan to the 14th over a period of more than 70 years since the founding of New China, the CPC has never wavered in its commitment to the blueprint for national prosperity and its determination to turn it into reality. Our system has enabled successive generations to carry on this relay race and take our unprecedented endeavour forward step by step. This has been the grandest modernisation drive in human history. It has made important contribution to the development, prosperity and progress of China and the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC. It is also the year when China embarks on the new journey of fully building a modern socialist country.

Over the past 100 years, the CPC has remained true to its original aspiration of pursuing happiness for the Chinese people and contributing to the progress of mankind. It is in the process of China’s relentless efforts to achieve national independence and development that the CPC played its leading role and the Party leader assumed a position as the core of CPC. This has won the wholehearted support of the 1.4 billion Chinese people.

China will remain committed to an independent foreign policy of peace. We will make vigorous efforts to develop global partnerships, foster a new type of international relations and build a community with a shared future for mankind. We will pursue peaceful coexistence and common development with all countries on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and contribute to world peace and prosperity.

This year is also the first year under the 14th Five Year Plan. China will enter a new development stage. We will fully implement the new development philosophy and make vigorous efforts to build a new development paradigm. This will create new space for both the Chinese and British business communities. Here, I wish to emphasise three opportunities:

First, the opportunity of open market and win-win results.

China is the world’s second largest economy and largest consumer market. China’s GDP is expected to grow at over 6% this year. Under the new development paradigm, China will accelerate the pace of opening up. This will create enormous opportunities for businesses from all over the world, including the UK.

The UK, meanwhile, has completed Brexit and is working to build a “global Britain”.

China and the UK can join hands to uphold the open world economy and safeguard an open, secure and stable global industrial chain, so as to achieve win-win results.

The second opportunity lies in innovation for the future.

China is pursuing innovation-driven development, improving the national system that encourages innovation, increasing investment in R&D, strengthening strategic emerging industries, and accelerating the development of digital economy.

The UK is strong in innovation and attaches importance to advanced science and technology.

Our two countries can deepen cooperation on scientific, technological and industrial innovation. We should facilitate the development of new industries and business models that have emerged during the pandemic. In regional development, we could strengthen cooperation and create synergy. China and the UK can work together to unleash our potential and become global leaders in cooperation on innovation.

The third opportunity lies in green development. This is another area of huge potential.

China is accelerating green and low-carbon development and promoting a full transition to green economic growth and social progress.

The UK has unique strength in climate response, clean energy and green finance.

Later this year, China and the UK will host COP15 and COP26 respectively. Closer coordination and cooperation between our two sides will bring out the synergy between the two conferences and enable both to achieve greater success.

I suggest that Chinese and British businesses seize this opportunity to expand cooperation on green industries, green technology and green finance. Together our two countries can take the lead in global governance on climate change and green development.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

A healthy and sound China-UK relationship is in the common interests of both our two countries and peoples. The UK is China’s important partner in Europe. China, as always, attaches great importance to developing its relations and cooperation with the UK.

However, this important relationship is facing difficulties. Some British politicians are reluctant to break away from the “Cold-War” and colonial mindset. They have made irresponsible remarks and spread lies about China’s internal affairs related to Hong Kong and Xinjiang. China is firmly opposed to this and unwavering in its determination to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests.

A few days ago, the UK Government issued the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. This document refers to China as “a systemic competitor” and “the biggest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security”.

I want to point out that China is not a “threat” or “systemic competitor”, but a partner for cooperation. It is true that China and the UK differ in political and social system, but this should not prevent our two countries from carrying out cooperation. The world is facing urgent issues and common challenges, such as fighting the pandemic, tackling climate change and safeguarding energy security. There is no reason why China and the UK should abandon cooperation and risk confrontation. Cooperation is our only choice.

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Against the backdrop of the profound changes unseen in a century and an unprecedented global pandemic, countries of the world are faced with the choices between cooperation and confrontation, between dialogue and division, between openness and exclusion.

It is my hope that my briefing today will help strengthen confidence in the prospects of China’s open development, in the future of China-UK mutually beneficial cooperation, and in the major trend of economic globalisation.

I look forward to working with you to seize the opportunities, resist disruptions, promote win-win cooperation between China and the UK, and write a new chapter for world peace and development!

Thank you!

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