By Liu Zhiqiang, People’s Daily
The State Council Information Office held a press conference in Beijing on March 6 about promoting high-quality development to set the stage for building a modern socialist country in all respects.
Zhao Chenxin, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), outlined China’s remarkable economic performance in 2022.
According to Zhao, the country’s GDP exceeded the 120-trillion-yuan ($17.22 trillion) mark for the first time, and the consumer price index only rose by 2 percent while global inflation has surged to its highest level in over 40 years.
Besides, a total of 12.06 million new urban jobs were created last year, exceeding the annual target of 11 million. China maintained a basic equilibrium in the balance of payments, and the scale of the country’s foreign exchange reserves remained over $3.1 trillion as of the end of last year.
China’s development quality saw steady improvement.
Innovation-driven development has played a more important role. China’s total expenditure on research and development (R&D) amounted to 3 trillion yuan for the first time, with the country’s ratio of R&D expenditure to GDP increasing to 2.55 percent. The country has climbed to 11th place in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2022 Report.
Structural adjustment accelerated in the sectors of industry, investment, consumption and trade. Green and low-carbon development achieved steady progress, and poverty alleviation achievements have been continuously consolidated. The social security system and public services were also improved firmly.
China has constantly consolidated the foundation for safe development.
Fiscal and financial operations were generally stable and sound, and international payments were in basic balance. The country has achieved a bumper grain harvest for 19 consecutive years, and its annual grain output has exceeded 650 billion kilograms for eight years in a row.
It also enhanced the systems of energy production, supply, storage and sales, and the energy supply is maintained at a stable level. The capability to maintain the security of key industrial and supply chains has been continuously improved.
According to the government work report this year, China’s annual growth target is set at around 5 percent.
Zhao explained that as a developing country, China still takes development as its top priority. To achieve the targets set at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the country needs to maintain reasonable economic growth to boost employment, improve people’s livelihoods, and prevent and defuse risks, Zhao added.
The 5-percent growth target, which is conducive to accelerating the creation of a new development paradigm and promoting high-quality development, is in line with current economic momentum, and will guide all sectors to focus on improving the quality and efficiency of development, Zhao said.
Besides, regions across China all have strong confidence in their development prospects, which lays a solid foundation for the country to achieve the annual growth target.
Zhao said the country will strengthen macro policy regulation, maintain the continuity and consistency of macro policies, make them more effective and targeted, enhance the integration and coordination of policies and ensure that all policies are consistent with the direction of macro policies.
The country will ensure that the implementation of the strategy to expand domestic demand is integrated with efforts to deepen supply-side structural reform, further unleash the potential of household consumption, boost investment, and implement the innovation-driven development strategy in an in-depth manner, and accelerate the building of a modern industrial system.
It will also build a high-standard socialist market economy and promote high-level opening up to constantly energize development. It will coordinate development and security, properly handle and defuse risks in areas such as property sector, finance, and local government debt, and practically enhance security capacity building in food security, energy resources and key industrial and supply chains.
Besides, China will thoroughly and effectively implement the employment-first policy, strengthen basic public services and constantly guarantee and improve people’s livelihood.
Final consumption is a lasting driver of economic growth. Li Chunlin, vice chairman of the NDRC, said that China’s consumer market has shown signs of rapid recovery. Consumption of catering, culture and other industries has rebounded since the Spring Festival holiday, getting the economy off to a strong start, he said.
Li believes that uncertain factors constraining the release of consumption potential are gradually eliminated, and the first half of this year is expected to see a steady increase in the growth of major indicators of consumption.
Consumption will serve as a main driving force boosting China’s economic growth in 2023, Li said.
In 2022, China’s fixed-asset investment increased by 5.1 percent over the previous year. In particular, investments in infrastructure and manufacturing rose 9.4 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively, playing an important role in stabilizing the macro economy.
Yang Yinkai, vice chairman of the NDRC, said China will keep working to expand effective investment this year, advance the construction of major projects, effectively drive investment from the society through government investment and policy incentives, consolidate the sound momentum for stable growth in infrastructure investment and manufacturing investment, and further enhance the key role of investment in optimizing the supply structure.