Key points from China's report on the work of the government in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is the fastest spreading, most extensive, and most challenging public health emergency China has encountered since the founding of the People's Republic. Under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, and through the hard work and sacrifice of our entire nation, the Chinese government has made major strategic achievements in our response to COVID-19. At present, the epidemic has not yet come to an end, and the tasks China faces in promoting development are immense. The Chinese government is to redouble its efforts to minimize the losses resulting from the virus and fulfill the main targets and tasks for economic and social development this year.

I. A review of the Chinese government's work in 2019 and the first few months of 2020

The main targets and tasks for 2019 were accomplished, laying the crucial foundation needed to reach the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

1.1 The economy remained stable overall.

- GDP reached 99.1 trillion yuan, growing by 6.1%.

- 13.52 million new urban jobs were added, and the surveyed unemployment rate was below 5.3%.

- Consumer prices rose by 2.9%.

- A basic equilibrium was maintained in the balance of payments.

1.2 The economic structure continued to improve, and the development priorities of regions became better aligned.

1.3 New growth drivers became stronger.

1.4 Major headway was made in reform and opening up.

1.5 Pivotal progress was achieved in the three critical battles against poverty, pollution, and potential risk.

1.6 Living standards continued to improve.

In COVID-19 control, the Chinese government stayed confident, came together in solidarity, adopted a science-based approach, and took targeted measures, carrying out all our work in a solid and meticulous manner. While continuing to advance epidemic control, the government has also promoted economic and social development. With 90 policy measures in 8 categories, the Chinese government has ensured stable supplies and prices and the resumption of work and production in a timely and effective manner.

II.  Main targets for development and the overall plan for the next stage of work

This year, the Chinese government must give priority to stabilizing employment and ensuring living standards, win the battle against poverty, and achieve the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects.

2.1 Main targets

- Over 9 million new urban jobs, a surveyed urban unemployment rate of around 6%, and a registered urban unemployment rate of around 5.5%

- A CPI increase of around 3.5%

- More stable and higher-quality imports and exports, and a basic equilibrium in the balance of payments

- Growth in personal income that is basically in step with economic growth

- Elimination of poverty among all rural residents living below the current poverty line and in all poor counties

- Effective prevention and control of major financial risks

- A further drop in energy consumption per unit of GDP and the discharge of major pollutants

- Accomplishment of the 13th Five-Year Plan

The Chinese government has not set a specific target for economic growth this year. This is because our country will face some factors that are difficult to predict in its development, due to the great uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the world economic and trade environment. Not setting a specific target for economic growth will enable everyone to concentrate on ensuring stability on the six fronts and security in the six areas. Ensuring stable economic performance is of crucial significance. The Chinese government needs to pursue reform and opening up as a means to stabilize employment, ensure people's well-being, stimulate consumption, energize the market, and achieve stable growth. We need to blaze a new path that enables us to respond effectively to shocks and sustain a positive growth cycle.

2.2 Pursue a more proactive and impactful fiscal policy

- Deficit-to-GDP ratio this year is projected at more than 3.6%, with a deficit increase of 1 trillion yuan over last year.

- Issue 1 trillion yuan of government bonds for COVID-19 control

2.3 Pursue a prudent monetary policy in a more flexible and appropriate way

- Use a variety of tools such as required reserve ratio reductions, interest rate cuts, and re-lending to enable M2 money supply and aggregate financing to grow at notably higher rates than last year

2.4 Strengthen the employment-first policy with comprehensive measures

- Strive to keep existing jobs secure, work actively to create new ones, and help unemployed people find work

III.  Forcefully implementing macro policies to keep businesses and employment stable

3.1 Further cut taxes and fees

- Aggressively implement current policies in conjunction with institutional arrangements

- Expect additional savings of more than 2.5 trillion yuan for enterprises throughout the year

3.2 Reduce enterprises' production and operating costs

3.3 Increase financial support to keep business operations stable

- Ensure that micro, small, and medium businesses have significantly better access to loans and that overall financing costs drop markedly

3.4 Make every effort to stabilize and expand employment

- Increase employment support for key sectors and key groups.

- Support flexible employment

- This year and next, provide more than 35 million vocational skills training opportunities, and grow enrollment in vocational colleges by 2 million

IV. Energizing market entities through reform and strengthening the new drivers of growth

4.1 Press ahead with reforms to streamline administration and delegate power, improve regulation, and upgrade services

- Boost the resumption of work, production, and business activities

- Make sustained efforts to create a market-oriented, law-based, and internationalized business environment

- Advance reforms to promote market-based allocation of production factors

- Improve the performance of state capital and SOE reforms

4.4 Foster an enabling environment for the development of the private sector

4.5 Encourage the upgrading of manufacturing and the growth of emerging industries

- Boost smart manufacturing

- Create new competitive strengths in the digital economy

4.6 Boost our capacity to support technological innovation

4.7 Continue to encourage business startups and innovation nationwide

V. Implementing the strategy of expanding domestic demand and promoting accelerated transformation of the economic growth model

The Chinese government will deepen supply-side structural reform, focus its efforts on improving the people's well-being, and boost consumption and expand investment in a mutually reinforcing way.

5.1 Promote the recovery of consumption

- Support the recovery and development of consumer services

5.2 Expand effective investment

- Priority will be given to new infrastructure and new urbanization initiatives and major projects, which not only boost consumption and benefit the people, but also facilitate structural adjustments and enhance the sustainability of growth. Efforts will be made mainly in the following three areas:

- Step up the construction of new types of infrastructure, developing next-generation information networks

- Strengthen the development of a new type of urbanization, improving public facilities and services in county seats and beginning the renovation of 39,000 old urban residential communities

- Redouble efforts to develop major transportation and water conservancy projects

5.3 Steadily advance new urbanization

5.4 Step up implementation of China's regional development strategies

- Implement a package of policies to support Hubei's development

5.5 Ensure more effective protection of ecosystems and the environment

5.6 Safeguard energy security

VI. Achieving poverty reduction goals and working for good harvests and growth in rural income

6.1 Win the fight against poverty

- Channel greater energy into eliminating poverty in all remaining poor counties and villages

- Continue to promote both poverty alleviation and rural revitalization

6.2 Work to bolster agricultural production

- Keep total crop acreage and grain output stable

- Penalize the acquisition of farmland for other purposes in violation of laws and regulations

- Increase the area of high-standard cropland by 5.33 million hectares

6.3 Create more channels for rural residents to find employment and increase their incomes

- Support modern agricultural facilities, safe drinking water projects, and the improvement of living environments

VII. Promoting higher-standard opening up and stabilizing the overall performance of foreign trade and foreign investment

The Chinese government will stay committed to opening our door wider to the world, keep our industrial and supply chains stable, and make opening up a catalyst for reform and development.

7.1 Stabilize the overall performance of foreign trade

- Help businesses get more orders and keep their employees on

- Work actively to expand imports

- Foster a large globally-oriented market of higher standards

7.2 Step up utilization of foreign capital

- Significantly shorten the negative list for foreign investment.

- Draw up a negative list for cross-border trade in services

- Foster an enabling market environment in which all companies, Chinese and foreign, are treated as equals and engaged in fair competition

7.3 Focus on quality in the joint pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative

7.4 Promote liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment

VIII. Advancing the reform and development of social programs to safeguard and improve living standards

8.1 Enhance the public health system

- Improve mechanisms for direct reporting and early warning of infectious diseases

- Ensure prompt, open, and transparent release of epidemic information

- Increase inputs into the R&D of vaccines, medicines, and rapid testing technologies

- Build more medical facilities for epidemic control and treatment

- Greatly enhance the government's prevention and control capability

- Resolutely prevent a resurgence of COVID-19

8.2 Improve basic medical services

- Pilot inter-provincial on-the-spot settlement of outpatient bills through basic medical insurance accounts

- Tighten up supervision over food and drugs

8.3 Develop more equitable and higher-quality education

- See that teaching in primary and secondary schools and entrance examinations for senior high school and university are well-organized

8.4 Make greater effort to meet people's basic living needs

- Increase the basic pension for retirees and the minimum basic old-age pension for rural and non-working urban residents

- Extend the coverage of unemployment insurance and subsistence allowances

- Ensure assistance is provided to anyone who runs into temporary difficulty

8.5 Organize rich intellectual and cultural activities for our people

8.6 Create new and better ways to conduct social governance

8.7 Strengthen accountability for workplace safety

(Source: The State Council of the People's Republic of China)

(Cover image: The third session of the 13th National People's Congress opens at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, China, May 22, 2020. /VCG)