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China’s Development Environment is Facing Profound and Complex Changes


Analysis of China’s increasingly complicated international strategic environment by a senior official at the Central Party School, the Communist Party’s premier cadre training facility.

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The “14th Five-Year Plan” period is the start of a new journey in China’s comprehensive construction of a modern socialist country and of a period that will witness the acceleration of profound changes unseen in a hundred years (百年未有之大变局) as well as the large, sustained impact of the global pandemic. Thus, a clear understanding and scientific grasp of the changes in the domestic and international environments is crucial for the effective formulation and implementation of the 14th Five-Year Plan. The Fifth Plenum of the 19th CCP Central Committee made the scientific judgment that “while China is currently in a period of favorable strategic development, there are still new opportunities and challenges ahead.” This fully reflects the Party Central Committee’s precise grasp of the domestic and international situations with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core and provides us with fundamental guidelines for correctly understanding the major development trends and handling both risks and challenges.

“十四五”时期是我国全面建设社会主义现代化国家新征程的开局起步期,也是世界百年未有之大变局的加速演进期、全球百年未遇之大疫情的持续影响期,清醒认识和科学把握国内外环境的变化对编制和实施好“十四五”规划至关重要。 党的十九届五中全会作出“当前和今后一个时期,我国发展仍然处于重要战略机遇期,但机遇和挑战都有新的发展变化”的科学判断,充分体现了以习近平同志为核心的党中央对国内外形势的精准把握,为我们正确认识发展大势、应对风险挑战提供了根本遵循。

Profound Changes Unseen in a Hundred Years are Rapidly Evolving Worldwide


That the world today is experiencing profound changes unseen in a hundred years is a significant strategic judgment made by General Secretary Xi Jinping. The “14th Five-Year Plan” period is different from the previous five-year plan periods in that the international environment has undergone changes unseen in a hundred years. Accurately grasping the rich implications and the development trends of this major change is the prerequisite and foundation to properly coping with the changes and seizing its strategic opportunities. More specifically, this new stage of scientific and technological innovation and industrial transformation is an important driving force behind this great change, while the profound shift in the international balance of power –“the rise of the East and the decline of the West” — drives these development trends. The global COVID-19 pandemic served as the catalyst for this great change. The basic characteristic of this period is that the world is entering a period of turbulent change.

当今世界正经历百年未有之大变局,是习近平总书记作出的一个重大战略判断。 “十四五”时期区别于以往五年规划期的最大不同,就是我国外部环境所面临的这一“百年未有之大变局”。 准确把握这一大变局的丰富内涵和发展趋势,是稳妥应对变局、抓住战略机遇的前提和基础。 具体来看,新一轮科技革命和产业变革是大变局的重要推动力量,国际力量对比深刻调整尤其是“东升西降”是大变局发展的主要方向,新冠肺炎疫情全球大流行是加剧大变局演进的催化剂,世界进入动荡变革期是大变局的基本特征。

Looking at the world today, we can see that a new round of scientific and technological innovation is advancing rapidly, with major breakthroughs occurring in the material sciences, life sciences, earth sciences and cosmology. Additionally, new and subversive innovations continue to emerge in information technology, biotechnology, manufacturing technology, new materials technology, and new energy technology. The combination of emerging technologies, like artificial intelligence, the Internet, and big data with traditional technologies has produced major technological shifts that are green, smart, and far-reaching. This has led to a new stage of industrial breakthrough that creates novel industries and business models, in addition to a revolutionary reshaping of traditional industries that altogether accelerate industrial revitalization. This new era of scientific and technological innovation and industrial reform has promoted profound changes in production models, social structures and lifestyles. Additionally, it has played an increasingly decisive role in shaping the world’s political and economic landscape and in shifting the global balance of power. Together, these breakthroughs have created the opportunity for China to shift to the stage of high-quality development.

环顾当今世界可以看到,新一轮科技革命突飞猛进,物质科学、生命科学、地球和宇宙科学等领域不断取得重大原创性突破,信息技术、生物技术、制造技术、新材料技术、新能源技术等领域的颠覆性技术不断涌现,人工智能、互联网、大数据等新兴技术与传统技术相结合,孕育出以绿色、智能、泛在为特征的群体性重大技术变革。 由此带动新一轮产业变革,创造出新产业新业态,传统产业得到革命性重塑,产业更新换代不断加快。 新一轮科技革命和产业变革推动生产方式、社会结构和生活方式发生深刻变化,在塑造世界政治经济格局、改变国家力量对比方面的决定性作用愈加凸显。 这一切为我国转向高质量发展阶段提供了新的重大机遇。

We can also see that in recent years, the United States and other developed countries have fallen into an economic and social decline. The lack of developmental vitality, the hollowing out of industries, an aging population, and a widening income gap are problems that seriously threaten economic development and create serious divisions within their societies. On the other hand, developing countries and emerging market economies are on the rise, and the trend has been accelerated; the most revolutionary change in the international balance of power in recent history is taking place. In recent years, emerging market economies and developing countries have accounted for nearly 40% of the total global economy, and their contribution to world economic growth has reached 80%, making these countries the main driving force behind global economic growth. The profound shift in the international balance of power has driven major changes in the international landscape with regards to the economy, science and technology, culture, security, and politics. Additionally, this shift has catalyzed profound changes in the global governance system, making the Western monopoly on international affairs unsustainable, effectively increasing the status and discourse power of emerging market economies and developing countries.

环顾当今世界还可以看到,近年来美国等一些发达国家经济社会发展陷入低迷,发展活力缺失,产业空心化、人口老龄化、收入差距扩大化严重威胁经济发展,社会内部严重分裂甚至走向对立,而新兴市场国家和发展中国家整体性崛起,呈现加速发展态势,国际力量对比正在发生近代以来最具革命性的变化。 近年来,新兴市场国家和发展中国家占全球经济总量的比重已接近40%,对世界经济增长的贡献率已经达到80%,成为全球经济增长的主要动力。 国际力量对比的深刻调整,推动国际经济、科技、文化、安全、政治格局出现重大变化,推动全球治理体系出现深刻变革,西方垄断国际事务的局面难以为继,新兴市场国家和发展中国家的国际地位和话语权不断提升。

It should also be noted that economic globalization is experiencing headwinds due to the rise of protectionism and unilateralism, sluggish international trade and investment, and the impact of non-economic factors on the global industrial chains, supply chains, and value chains. Multipolarity has also encountered obstacles; as demonstrated by the United States, some developed countries do not want to lose their dominance in the international system. As such, they frequently seek to contain developing countries by using their monopoly on the financial, and technology sectors, or by adjusting international economic and trade rules to protect their own interests. The international economic and political landscape have become more and more volatile; global governance issues have become increasingly complex, and global crises have emerged one after another, constantly posing challenges to human society.

还应看到,当前经济全球化遭遇逆流,保护主义、单边主义上升,国际贸易投资持续低迷,全球产业链供应链价值链受到非经济因素严重冲击。 世界多极化也遭遇阻挠,以美国为代表的一些发达国家不愿失去国际体系的主导权控制权,频频通过其垄断的金融、科技权力遏制发展中国家,调整国际经贸规则以保护自身利益。 国际经济政治格局变幻不定,全球性治理议题日趋复杂,全球性危机此起彼伏,不断挑战人类社会。

The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed changes unseen in a hundred years, serving to intensify a major fracture in the international landscape and in international relations. The pandemic has damaged an already weakened global economy. The United States, France, and other countries have experienced the most severe quarterly recession on record, while the world has fallen into the most severe economic recession since World War II. The pandemic and the resulting economic recession have reinforced the tendency for some countries to turn inwards, causing the rise of populism and nationalism and the intensification of ideological struggles. This has greatly increased the probability of “black swan” and “gray rhinoceros” incidents.

今年以来,新冠肺炎疫情全球大流行成为百年未有之大变局的催化剂,加剧了国际格局和国际关系的大裂变。 疫情使本就孱弱的全球经济雪上加霜,美国、法国等国家出现有统计数据以来最严重的季度性经济衰退,世界陷入二战以来最严重的经济衰退。 疫情及其造成的经济衰退强化了部分国家的内顾倾向,导致民粹主义、民族主义抬头,意识形态领域斗争更趋激烈,“黑天鹅”“灰犀牛”事件发生的概率大大增加。

Looking back at the one hundred years since the end of World War I, human society has experienced the Great Depression of 1929-1933, the unprecedented scale and destruction of World War II, over forty years of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, thirty years of rapid economic globalization since the late 1970s and early 1980s, and the 2008 financial crisis. Now, we are facing the devastating implications of a new crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic. For more than a hundred years, human society has been torn between war and peace, turmoil and governance, progress and regression, cooperation and confrontation, and protectionism and open trade. However, none of them has not stopped human society from moving forward. The world has entered a turbulent era of change: the current international environment has become increasingly complex, instability and uncertainty have significantly increased, economic globalization continues to undergo profound changes, the global governance system is facing structural shifts, and the international landscape is quickly changing. Nevertheless, peace and development remain the foundation of our times and the deeply held belief of a shared destiny has brought new hope and confidence to the development of human society.

回顾第一次世界大战结束以来这100多年,人类社会先后经历了1929—1933年的经济大萧条和规模空前、破坏程度空前的第二次世界大战,美苏两大阵营40多年的冷战,上世纪70年代末、80年代初以来30年经济全球化的快速发展,2008年发生的百年一遇的国际金融危机,现在又面临前所未有的新冠肺炎疫情全球大流行及其产生的严重影响。 100多年来,在战争与和平、动乱与治理、进步与倒退、合作与对抗、开放与封闭的反复较量中,人类社会前进的脚步从未停止。虽然当前国际环境日趋复杂,不稳定性不确定性明显增加,经济全球化进程出现深刻调整,全球治理体系面临重塑,国际格局加速演变,世界进入动荡变革期,但和平与发展仍然是时代主题,深入人心的人类命运共同体理念给人类社会发展带来新的希望和信心。

The 14th Five-Year Plan: An Important Period of Strategic Opportunities for China’s Development


After nearly a century of struggle led by the Chinese Communist Party, more than 70 years of construction of New China, and more than 40 years of reform and opening up, China has become the world’s second largest economy. Following the historic growth in our economic strength, scientific and technological strength, and comprehensive national power, the Chinese nation is now standing strong in the global east. Since the 18th Party Congress, under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, the Party and the state have made historic achievements and changes, effectively laying a solid foundation for continued development. Facing the pressure of economic decline, we did not panic or lose focus; instead, we maintained strategic determination and precisely implemented policy, leaving room for further growth. Facing deep-rooted systemic challenges in our economic system, we did not shrink back, but attempted to heal the system through supply-side structural reform to prepare for stronger future development. In the face of potential economic and financial risks, we did not relax our vigilance, but prevented, resolved, and eliminated hidden dangers for continued growth.

经过中国共产党带领人民近百年奋斗、新中国70多年建设、改革开放40多年开拓,中国已成为世界第二大经济体,经济实力、科技实力、综合国力实现历史性提升,中华民族以崭新姿态屹立于世界东方。 特别是党的十八大以来,在以习近平同志为核心的党中央坚强领导下,党和国家事业取得历史性成就、发生历史性变革,为继续发展打下坚实基础。 面对经济下行压力,我们没有惊慌失措、大水漫灌,而是保持战略定力,精准施策,为继续发展留下政策空间;面对经济体系中的深层次体制性障碍,我们没有畏难退缩,而是通过供给侧结构性改革刮骨疗伤,为继续发展强身健体;面对潜在的经济金融风险,我们没有放松警惕,而是启动防范化解重大风险攻坚战,为继续发展消除隐患。

In the “14th Five-Year Plan” period, China has transitioned to a period of high-quality development. As such, China will shift from building a moderately prosperous society to building a modern socialist country and will enter a critical stage where it is necessary to change development models, optimize the economic structure, and transform our growth momentum. Based on an overall evaluation, our country has sufficient economic potential, strong development resilience, large maneuvering space, and overall social stability. It also has many advantages in promoting development: First, it has a strong material foundation. With more than 100 million market entities, China has the world’s most complete and largest industrial system, as well as a strong production capacity and a comprehensive supporting capacity. Coupled with our confidence in handling risks and challenges, our material strength serves as a solid foundation for China’s continued development. Second, China has abundant human resources. China has a large pool of human capital and talent. The demographic dividend still exists, and the talent dividend is increasingly clear. As of the end of 2019, China’s working-age population between 16 and 59 years numbered 896.4 million, which accounts for 64% of the total population. Additionally, the average number of years of schooling of China’s working-age population reached 10.5 years. The proportion of the new workforce with higher education exceeded 48%, while the average years of schooling reached more than 13.6 years, exceeding the world average. Third, China has a vast market space. In 2019, China’s per capita GDP exceeded US$10,000 and household savings reached RMB 81.3 trillion. Looking forward, a high-income country with 1.4 billion people is bound to become the world’s largest consumer market. In particular, we have the centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, the scientific guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, as well as the remarkable advantages of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and the national governance system. In the face of hardship and challenges, it is such leadership that allows us to unite our people in one mind and come together as one in overcoming difficulties.

“十四五”时期,我国已转向高质量发展阶段,将由全面建成小康社会转向全面建设社会主义现代化国家,处于转变发展方式、优化经济结构、转换增长动力的攻坚期。 综合判断,我国经济潜力足、发展韧性强、回旋空间大、社会大局稳定,推动发展具有多方面优势:一是物质基础雄厚。 我国具有全球最完整、规模最大的工业体系以及强大的生产能力、完善的配套能力,拥有1亿多市场主体。 雄厚的物质实力是我国继续发展的坚实基础,也是我们应对风险挑战的底气所在。 二是人力资源丰富。 我国拥有庞大的人力资本和人才资源,人口红利仍然存在,人才红利日益显现。 一方面,截至2019年底,我国16岁到59岁劳动年龄人口为89640万人,占总人口的64%。 另一方面,我国劳动年龄人口平均受教育年限达到10。5年,新增劳动力中接受过高等教育的比例超过48%,平均受教育年限达到13。6年以上,高于世界平均水平。 三是市场空间广阔。 2019年我国人均GDP超过1万美元,住户存款81。3万亿人民币。 面向未来,一个14亿人口的高收入国家必将成为全球最大的消费市场。 尤其是我们有以习近平同志为核心的党中央的集中统一领导,有习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想的科学指引,有中国特色社会主义制度和国家治理体系的显著优势,在面对困难复杂局面时能够万众一心、众志成城,凝聚起攻坚克难的强大力量。

Accounting for changes occurring in both the domestic and international environment, China is still in an important period of strategic opportunities. However, there are also new developments in terms of both opportunities and challenges to consider. For example, with new scientific and technological innovations and industrial reforms, there is opportunity for innovative development and a closure of the economic and technological gap with developed countries, and yet there is also the risk that the existing gap will only continue to widen. With the profound shift in the international balance of power comes the opportunity for China’s national rejuvenation, but there is also the risk that certain American politicians have been and will continue to work hard to contain China’s rise. Changes in the global system of governance create the opportunity for China to play a larger role on the international stage, but there is still the risk that old styles of global governance will clash with the new. The battle against COVID-19 has strengthened the world’s recognition of China’s system, governance and culture, but there is also the risk that some Western politicians will continue to blame China and cast China in a negative light. New social contradictions have created new momentum for China’s development, but still there remains a series of risks that could arise from unbalanced and insufficient development. High-quality development creates unique advantages and circumstances for innovative development, but there is still the risk of a poor transition to a higher stage of development and subsequent economic stagnation. All these factors necessitate a dialectical understanding and scientific grasp during the “14th Five-Year” period.

综合国内外环境变化,我国发展仍然处于重要战略机遇期,但机遇和挑战都有新的发展变化。 比如,新一轮科技革命和产业变革加速演进为我国实现创新发展、“弯道超车”提供了机遇,但也存在现有差距继续拉大的风险;国际力量对比深刻调整为我国实现民族复兴提供了推力,但也存在美国一些政客对我加紧遏制的风险挑战;全球治理体系调整为我国在国际上发挥更大作用提供了条件,但也存在世界陷入新旧治理体系碰撞对抗的风险;抗击新冠肺炎疫情增强了世界对我国制度、文化和治理的认同,但也存在某些西方政客抹黑甩锅我国的风险;社会主要矛盾变化给我国实现新发展创造了新动力,但也存在发展不平衡不充分衍生的系列风险;高质量发展有多方面的优势和条件,但也存在转型不畅、经济失速的风险。 凡此等等,都需要我们在“十四五”时期辩证认识和科学把握。

Managing China’s Affairs Well in Domestic and International Contexts


China has never been closer to the center of the world stage than it is today; the Chinese nation has never been closer to the goal of national rejuvenation than it is today. This is a great accomplishment, one that has taken plenty of struggle and sacrifice, hardship and suffering to achieve. It must be cherished. Achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation based on socialist modernization is in the highest interest of the Party and the people, and we must move steadfastly and overcome any obstacles toward this goal. Any risks or obstacles that may delay or interrupt the process of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation must be unambiguously prevented and properly handled.

中国从来没有像今天这样走近世界舞台中央,中华民族从来没有像今天这样接近伟大复兴的目标。 这是经历了多少奋斗和牺牲、艰辛和苦难才赢得的伟大成就,必须倍加珍惜。 在社会主义现代化基础上实现中华民族伟大复兴,是党和人民的最高利益所在,必须坚定不移、排除万难向着这个既定目标持续不断地迈进。 任何可能迟滞或中断中华民族伟大复兴进程的重大风险挑战,都必须毫不含糊地全力防范、妥善化解。

General Secretary Xi Jinping clearly stated that “leading cadres should keep in mind two situations: one is the overall strategic landscape of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the other is the changes unseen in a hundred years. This is the basic starting point of our work.” The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CCP Central Committee emphasized that the whole party should work to coordinate the domestic and international situations, and in the face of crises and turbulence, seek new opportunities and open doors to advantageous situations. We should deeply understand the important instructions of General Secretary Xi Jinping and the spirit of the Fifth Plenum, scientifically grasp the multifaceted and deep connections between the two situations at home and abroad, and deeply understand the new features and requirements brought about by the changes in the development of our main societal contradictions. It’s also necessary to deeply understand the new contradictions and challenges in the complex international environment, enhance our awareness of opportunities and challenges, grasp the laws of development, carry forward the spirit of struggle, and enhance the skills necessary to face these challenges. Whether it is to solve domestic problems or international contradictions, whether it is to formulate policies or promote our work, we must consciously plan in light of these two big pictures in order to effectively promote the overall goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. In this way, China will be the driving force behind the worldwide changes necessary to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

习近平总书记明确提出:“领导干部要胸怀两个大局,一个是中华民族伟大复兴的战略全局,一个是世界百年未有之大变局,这是我们谋划工作的基本出发点。” 党的十九届五中全会强调,全党要统筹国内国际两个大局,善于在危机中育先机、于变局中开新局。 我们要深入理解习近平总书记重要指示和五中全会精神,科学把握国内国际两个大局之间多方面、深层次的联动关系,深刻认识我国社会主要矛盾发展变化带来的新特征新要求,深刻认识错综复杂的国际环境带来的新矛盾新挑战,增强机遇意识和风险意识,把握发展规律,发扬斗争精神,增强斗争本领。 无论是解决国内问题还是国际矛盾,无论是制定政策还是推动工作,都要自觉从两个大局去谋划,扎实推进中华民族伟大复兴战略全局,并以此引领世界大变局朝着有利于实现中华民族伟大复兴的方向演进。

The “14th Five-Year Plan” period represents a critical juncture in achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. In particular, we need to maintain the critical recognition that “the midstream is where the current is the strongest and the road halfway up the hill is steeper.” This requires us to remain mindful of bottom-line thinking, enhance our awareness of potential pitfalls, improve our ability to notice subtleties, and treat incidents of low probability as if they are highly likely to happen. We should be highly vigilant of “black swan” events, while also working to prevent “gray rhinoceros” events; we should not only prevent risks at the outset, but also respond to and resolve arising challenges with clever moves; we should prevent and resist possible risks, but also strive to bring order out of chaos and opportunities out of crises.

“十四五”时期是实现中华民族伟大复兴的关键时机,尤其需要时刻保持“船到中流浪更急、人到半山路更陡”的清醒认识。 这就要求我们坚持底线思维、增强忧患意识,提高见微知著能力,用大概率思维应对小概率事件。 既要高度警惕“黑天鹅”事件,也要防范“灰犀牛”事件;既要有防范风险的先手,也要有应对和化解风险挑战的高招;既要打好防范和抵御风险的有准备之战,也要打好化险为夷、转危为机的战略主动战。

The further we are in realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, the more it is necessary to observe and analyze problems through a Marxist perspective, point of view, and methods to enhance our dialectical thinking capabilities. Looking at trends of global and domestic development, we must take steps to drive the resolution of contradictions both internally and externally to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. In order to do so, one should focus on identifying and resolving problems, actively confront and resolve the internal and external contradictions that arise in this process, grasp the relationship between the central contradictions and secondary contradictions as well as the central and secondary aspects of the contradiction, and prioritize the resolution of the main contradiction and the main aspects of the contradiction, so as to drive the resolution of other contradictions. In the practice of resolving internal and external contradictions, we will help drive the historic process of the rejuvenation of the Chinese people. It is also necessary to improve our ability to cope with complex situations and handle complex issues. It is necessary to handle the relationships well between the part and the whole, the short-term and the long-term, the central and non-central components of the situation, as well as opportunities and challenges that arise from the situation. It is necessary to lay out the whole situation and highlight the key aspects, to tackle multiple issues and adopt precise measures, to uphold the firmness of the principle and the flexibility of the strategy, and closely follow the changes in the situation to adjust the strategy in a timely manner. It is necessary to accurately recognize change, scientifically respond to change, and proactively seek change. In weighing the pros and cons to avoid harm, we will turn crises into opportunities. In actively facing challenges, we will seize the opportunities, valiantly forge ahead, and strive to create a situation in which the overall strategic landscape for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the worldwide changes unseen in a hundred years are linked in a positive way, in order to make greater contributions on the part of China to the cause of human development and progress.

中华民族伟大复兴越是向纵深发展,就越是需要运用马克思主义立场观点方法观察和分析问题,增强辩证思维能力。 从世界发展大势和国内发展大局出发,坚持问题导向,积极面对和化解前进中遇到的内外矛盾,把握好主要矛盾和次要矛盾、矛盾的主要方面和次要方面的关系,优先解决主要矛盾和矛盾的主要方面,以此带动其他矛盾的解决,在解决内外矛盾的实践中推进中华民族伟大复兴的历史进程。 提高驾驭复杂局面、处理复杂问题的本领,善于处理局部和全局、当前和长远、重点和非重点、机遇和挑战的关系,既整体布局又突出重点、既多点开花又精准发力、既讲原则的坚定性又讲策略的灵活性,并紧跟形势变化及时调整策略,准确识变、科学应变、主动求变,在权衡利弊中趋利避害、转危为机,在积极应对挑战中把握机遇、奋勇前进,努力创造中华民族伟大复兴战略全局与世界百年未有之大变局良性联动的局面,为人类发展进步事业作出中国更大的贡献。

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何毅亭 (He Yiting). "China’s Development Environment is Facing Profound and Complex Changes [我国发展环境面临深刻复杂变化]". CSIS Interpret: China, original work published in People's Daily [人民日报], December 8, 2020

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