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Govt Work Report shows how China plans to leverage its advantages

By Laurence Brahm | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-03-05 16:34

High-rises dominate the skyline on both sides of the Huangpu River in Shanghai. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

There was once a movie called "Year of Living Dangerously." Yes, 2024, the Year of the Dragon may be fraught with global crisis. However, we must remember, China is an ancient civilization and crisis is nothing new, because every Chinese knows it is something that can be overcome.

The Chinese word for "crisis" is composed of two combined characters, danger and opportunity. Every crisis presents both opportunity along with danger. It is with an optimistic and farsighted vision that a nation can rise up over international crisis and visualize clearly the opportunities that such dangers may present.

In his annual Government Work Report delivered at the second session of the 14th National People's Congress on March 5, 2024, Premier Li Qiang offered a very clear and sober review of 2023. He noted the interwoven complexities and current global challenges in the post-COVID-19 era. In particular, the sluggish global economic recovery, exacerbated by geopolitical conflicts, now being expressed through the forms of acute protectionism and unilateralism.

In rising to the challenges of this international imbroglio of economic recessions, global conflicts and internal political confusion in many Western countries, Premier Li offered in his report, a strategy for China to leverage its advantages. This year's blueprint is a plan for China to strengthen science and technology programs and to transform this massive emphasis on research and development into new industrialization policies to create a more efficient, high quality and green industrial base for the nation's future development, and that of its investment and trading partners.

This will require comprehensive policies to advance development of green and low-carbon industries, involving industrial ultra-low emission retrofitting. The promotion of new energy vehicles, hydrogen power development, involving new materials, will provide a fresh stimulus for growth that is smart, green and blue. Environmental economics will be accentuated by healthcare economics involving new innovative drugs, and bio-manufacturing. So while the world is facing recession in so many sectors, China is leveraging its strengths to push forward with new areas of economic growth in 2024.

While 2024 may prove a challenging year for the global economy with downsizing, decoupling and downgrading of growth expectations globally. This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, and a crucial year for achieving the objectives and tasks laid down in the 14th Five-Year Plan. While the economic growth target for this year has been set at around 5 percent, it represents an objective considering both downscaling of global economic expectations and the need for China to focus more on quality of industrial sectors rather than their rapid development.

The new policy focus will support high-quality development of the digital economy, to actively transform traditional industries with digital technologies, and fully integrate digital technology into the real economy. This will require new emphasis on research and development to apply big data and AI in revamping traditional industrial and manufacturing sectors to build a digital internet economy that can be internationally competitive. Public-private partnership in many sectors will be the name of the game as small and medium enterprises are brought into the ambit of this new economic development strategy that emphasizes quality over quantity.

A highly coordinated and strategy for the overhaul and upgrading of China's educational system together with science and technology research and development will add new impetus to the workforce, in turn serving as a new driver for economic growth and employment of youth in particular. Major support for scientific and technological innovation programs, new types of infrastructure, and energy conservation and pollution and carbon reduction initiatives will be prioritized. Alongside panning, market incentives and drivers will be a policy prerogative supporting nongovernmental investments in core technologies together with disruptive and frontier technologies.

Meanwhile, while the world is undergoing the pains of post-COVID-19, decoupling of economic integration, China is actually seeking further global integration promoting a globalization reset in the post-COVID-19 era through the Belt and Road Initiative, accelerated by continued used of digital means of payment and trade settlement with the globalization of the yuan currency. The Year of the Dragon anticipates more efforts to promote foreign investment and business with less restrictions and more opportunities as China seeks to revitalize its economy and that of its global partners together. By meeting the challenges of post-COVID-19 world disorder and crisis by seeking opportunities over danger.

The author is a US documentary filmmaker and a senior international fellow at the Center for China and Globalization. The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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