Coronavirus: China’s Xi Jinping hints Beijing may claim victory in doubling economy in 2020, despite pandemic

03-Jun-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

State media on Sunday published a 13-month-old speech made by President Xi Jinping in which he said China has “basically achieved the goal of building up a comprehensive well-off society”, suggesting Beijing may declare victory this year in achieving one of its most-prized development goals despite the economic impact of the coronavirus.

The timely publication of the speech, made behind closed doors in April last year, signalled the government is giving itself flexibility to articulate its policy goals following the outbreak, which saw the world’s second largest economy contract by 6.8 per cent in the first quarter.

Doubling the size of gross domestic product (GDP) in the decade to 2020 is seen as a key component of the ruling Communist Party’s push to build a “comprehensive well-off society”, which is a milestone in the nation’s rejuvenation.

Reaching the goal requires minimum growth of 5.6 per cent this year, but after China recorded its first contraction in more than four decades in the first quarter that is increasingly looking like a long shot.

China’s government abandoned a GDP growth target for 2020 at the National People’s Congress last month for the first time since 2002.

Xi’s speech, published by Qiushi magazine, a party mouthpiece, argued that “people’s actual living condition and their sense of real gains” are just as vital to measure the well-off society as numbers were..

“[We] must guide the whole society to have a correct understanding, objectively reflect the existing weak links and defects, and prevent unrealistic high targets and blind comparisons,” the speech said.

Xi also said the goal of doubling GDP in 2020 does not mean every province or city had to double its economic output.

The central government has pledged a stimulus package of nearly 3.6 trillion yuan (US$506 billion), as well as 4 trillion yuan of cost cuts, to help revive the economy. While the sum total of new spending and tax cuts is large, it fell short of expectations.

In the speech, Xi said the key to building a well-off society is to “fix the weak links”, which he identified as people in extreme poverty, poor regions, ecological health, the public service and infrastructure.

Yang Weimin, deputy director of the economic affairs committee under the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said on Monday that the target has been basically achieved, as likely growth of 1 per cent to 3 per cent this year would mean GDP in 2020 was 1.95 times higher than in 2010.

“The key is to win people’s recognition and accomplish the poverty reduction campaign,” he said in an online symposium hosted by the think tank, China Centre for International Economic Exchanges.

To support virus-affected households and prevent them from falling into poverty, government policies are focusing on measures to help businesses and save jobs.

“The focus of macro policies is to protect market entities,” Yang said.


Category: China

Print This Post