China had a big impact domestically and internationally this year. As it takes up the responsibility of a major country, China and its citizens are working toward rejuvenating the nation by ushering in changes to all spheres of life, from politics to trade. Meanwhile, the leadership is ensuring societal stability by improving domestic institutions while leaving a global footprint through its diplomatic efforts. At a time of international volatility, China provides the foundation to perpetuate global peace and prosperity.
1. Xi's thought enshrined in China's Constitution
China's National People's Congress (NPC) in March adopted an amendment to the country's Constitution, the first in 14 years. One major highlight of the 2018 amendment was adding Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era into the Constitution.
The amendment juxtaposed Xi's thought with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development as the guiding ideology for the Communist Party of China (CPC).
2. China elects new state leadership; President Xi Jinping takes public oath for the first time
During the first session of the 13th National People's Congress in March, state leadership, including the Chinese president, as well as the leadership for China's top political advisory body – the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, were elected.
Xi Jinping was elected Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China on March 17.
On the same day, Xi took a public oath of allegiance to the Constitution in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. This was the first time that a Chinese president took such an oath upon assuming office.
3. China celebrates 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up
This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up, which saw the country's transformation from a largely agricultural nation into the world's second-largest economy. A grand gathering in celebration of the anniversary was held in Beijing in December, during which President Xi stressed that reform and opening-up is instrumental to China's destiny in the modern era, one that propelled a quantum leap in the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
The remarkable policy plays a key role in achieving the country's two centennial goals and its great rejuvenation. A total of 100 Chinese nationals were awarded the medals of reform pioneers and 10 foreign nationals were honored with China reform friendship medals in recognition of their outstanding contribution to the reform and opening-up.
4. CPC deepens reform of Party and state institutions
Following the third plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, a decision on deepening reform of the Party and state institutions was made public. The reform aims to facilitate the modernization of China's governance system and capability from a strategic and long-term perspective.
Two days after the announcement of the decision, a new anti-corruption agency – the National Supervisory Commission – was officially inaugurated to strengthen the fight against corruption. Within two months, 25 ministries and commissions finished institutional restructuring and were officially inaugurated in accordance with the decision.
5. China vows to give more support to private enterprises
President Xi presided over a symposium on private enterprises in November when he underlined the private sector's significant contribution to China's economic development. He demanded the implementation of policies and measures in six aspects to create a better environment for the development of private enterprises and to address their difficulties. Following the president's call, the government rolled out a series of favorable policies toward private enterprises.
China has remained a staunch supporter of globalization and multilateralism in 2018. The country hosted four high-level diplomatic events, further engaging the rest of the world: The Boao Forum for Asia annual conference in April, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Qingdao in June, the 2018 summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing in September and the first China International Import Expo in Shanghai in November.
Attended by 54 African members, FOCAC marked the largest and highest-level diplomatic event China had ever hosted. The concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind has been further elaborated upon and practiced through fruitful diplomatic events and President Xi's overseas visits. His footprints spanned across 13 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and Oceania. China also established diplomatic ties with the Dominican Republic, Burkina Faso and El Salvador.
7. PLA Navy presents brand new image during Xi's review
President Xi Jinping inspected the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the South China Sea on April 12. The navy review was the largest of its kind in the People's Republic of China since its founding in 1949. Since 2018, the PLA has made a thorough implementation of Xi's thought on building a strong military in the new era.
Moreover, the PLA has also taken on the responsibility of guarding China's national flag and firing salute cannons, starting from January 1 this year, while the armed police force was also ordered to uphold the unified leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the Central Military Commission (CMC). On May 13, China's first domestically-built aircraft set out for sea trials. A month before that, the brand new Ministry of Veteran Affairs – which aims to work for a centralized and unified management and support system for veterans with clarified power and duties – formally started operation.
8. China boosts green economic development along Yangtze River
At a conference after inspecting the management of the environment and construction work along the Yangtze River on April 26, President Xi stressed that environmental restoration must be made the top priority in developing the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Economic growth along the river requires scientific and orderly development, he said, and the aim is to build the economic belt into a golden belt with beautiful scenery and smooth traffic.
A national conference on environmental protection was held in early May, during which President Xi vowed that China will fight a good battle against pollution and push ecological civilization to a new level.
9. China launches income tax reform, adopts more measures to improve people's welfare
On August 31, the Amendment to the Individual Income Tax Law was officially approved, which encompasses major revisions in areas such as the determination of taxable income, tax brackets, the tax-free threshold and tax-deductible expenses. The reform helps reduce the burden on taxpayers.
China also adopted a series of measures to improve its people's welfare. On July 1, the State Council announced that a central adjustment fund will be set up to regulate pension funds in various regions, a move that would help guarantee timely and complete payments to retirees. By the end of September, 46.199 million people benefitted from rural and urban subsistence allowances, with the verification rate of urban recipients increasing by 7.6 percent and that of rural recipients by 12.9 percent.
On October 1, a new rehabilitation system to help children with disabilities, such as by covering their treatment expenses, was put into effect. Later that month, on October 10, 17 cancer drugs were added to the national basic medical insurance program, easing the burden on cancer patients.
10. China tightens rules on the vaccine industry
In July, a major vaccine manufacturer, Changsheng Bio-technology Co. in Changchun, Jilin province, was revealed to have fabricated production records and produced substandard vaccines. President Xi ordered a thorough investigation into the case and severe punishment for those found responsible. A number of people at the company were arrested while a 9.1-billion-yuan fine (1.3 billion U.S. dollars) was imposed on the company.
Following the scandal, China's lawmakers tightened rules on the vaccine industry. On October 16, a compensation plan for victims of the faulty vaccines was made public with special funds set up for the compensation. On November 11, a new draft law calling for stricter management of the production, research and distribution of vaccines was submitted to the bimonthly legislative session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.