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New Era, New Journey, New Opportunities
Keynote Speech by H.E. Ambassador Chen at the Webinar
2020-11-24 22:47

Good afternoon! It is a great pleasure to attend the Webinar on the Third Volume of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China and the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee. First of all, on behalf of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa, I would like to extend warm welcome to all of our distinguished guests. My deep thanks go to the National Press Club for their thoughtful preparations and arrangements for this event.

The Third Volume of Xi Jinping: the Governance of China contains 92 of President Xi Jinping's spoken and written pieces since the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017.

In this book, you can find many new visions, new ideas and new strategies put forward by President Xi Jinping and the CPC about China's reform, development and stability, party, state and military governance as well as domestic and foreign affairs and national defense.

This book also provides clear-cut answers on how to promote win-win cooperation and common development of all countries, including South Africa and African countries and build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Not long ago, the 19th CPC Central Committee successfully convened its Fifth Plenary Session. The most important outcome of this session is the adoption of the Proposals of the CPC Central Committee for Formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.

The Proposals have mapped out systematic and strategic plans regarding the major objectives, priority areas and key tasks for China's economic and social development in the next five years. The Proposals have outlined a blueprint for China's development in the next five to fifteen years.

China will soon enter a new development stage of fully building a modern socialist country and marching toward the Second Centenary Goal.

The Fifth Plenary Session fully embodies the vision and sense of responsibility of the CPC with Comrade Xi Jinping as its core and the firm determination of the CPC to lead the Chinese people to strive for the two Centenary Goals. This Session is of great historical significance to China's development.

Both The Third Volume of Xi Jinping: the Governance of China and the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee are the embodiment and latest practices of Xi Jinping thought on state governance.

The Third Volume provides major philosophies and strategies for guiding the development of the CPC and the country. The Fifth Plenary Session provides guidelines and action plans for promoting the translation of CPC's visions into China's development achievements. Both of them serve as the golden keys to better understand and interpret China's development story in the new era.

Now China, South Africa and other African countries are all facing the arduous task of defeating the pandemic, recovering the economy and ensuring people's livelihood. Last Month, President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. The African Continental Free Trade Area is about to take off, and Africa is moving faster toward integration.

In this context, this Webinar could not be more relevant as it is of great significance to enhancing our mutual learning in state governance, seeking greater synergy between our development plans, and promoting the China-South Africa and China-Africa mutually beneficial cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through reading The Third Volume of Xi Jinping: the Governance of China and the gist of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, I was deeply impressed by five key words, namely the "Five P". Here I would like to share them with you. They are People First, Party Leadership, New Paradigm, Shared Prosperity and Governing Proficiency.

The first key word is "People First". President Xi Jinping always puts the people first and commits himself to the people-centered development philosophy. China's development is for the people, reliant on the people, and the fruits are shared by the people.

Life supremacy fully embodies President Xi's "People First" philosophy. Confronted with the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, President Xi said, "To protect people's lives, we can sacrifice anything"!

We place people's life safety and health above economic interests. After the outbreak of the COVID-19, we have taken unprecedented comprehensive and stringent prevention and control measures at the cost of economic growth.

We always care about the life safety and health of overseas Chinese communities. We have done everything possible to ensure their safety, health and normal work and life. We have distributed over one million "health kits" to overseas Chinese students and assisted the Chinese citizens with difficulties in returning home in an orderly manner.

We save life at all costs. We have spared no efforts to treat and cure all COVID-19 patients with no one left behind. Take one case for example. More than 10 medical staff worked day and night to save the life of a 70-year-old COVID-19 patient for over ten days, costing nearly 1.5 million RMB (230,000 US dollars). All of these expenses are covered by the government.

From 30-hour-old newborns to centenarians, from overseas Chinese communities to foreign nationals in China, each and every life has been protected with utmost efforts. This fully testifies to the CPC and Chinese government's philosophy of putting people first and governing for the good of the people.

The people-centered development philosophy runs through the 14th Five-Year Plan. The content on building a public health system accounts for more than half of the chapter "building a healthy China". President Xi also pointed out that scientific and technological innovation should be more oriented towards people's life and health, which highlights his respect for life and care for the people.

Poverty reduction and alleviation is the most vivid practice of the "People First" philosophy, as well as a major measure to achieve the common prosperity for all Chinese people. President Xi Jinping pledged that "no one should be left behind on the journey towards building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and achieving common prosperity".

We are now making utmost efforts to win the battle against poverty. We are vigorously helping people shake off poverty through science and technology, industrialization, tourism, and e-commerce, implementing the rural revitalization strategy, and accelerating agricultural modernization.

From the end of 2012 to the end of 2019, China has lifted more than 10 million people out of poverty annually for seven consecutive years, and over 93 million Chinese people have shaken off poverty, contributing more than 70% to global poverty reduction.

Confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic and severe floods, President Xi Jinping has repeatedly given instructions for poverty reduction and alleviation. President Xi stressed that China is resolute to realize the target for poverty alleviation on schedule. No sweeping victory, no rest.

By the end of 2020, all China's 1.4 billion people will be lifted out of absolute poverty by the current standard, thus achieving the goal of eradicating absolute poverty set out in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule, and creating a miracle in the world history of poverty reduction.

China has the world's largest social security system, with more than 1.3 billion people covered by basic medical insurance and nearly 1 billion people covered by basic old-age insurance. The "People First" philosophy is also the guiding principle for the Fifth Plenary Session to adopt the relevant Proposals. The Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 put forth for the first time that "more substantial progress shall be made for the common prosperity of all the people".

The second key word is "Party Leadership". The key to China's success lies in the CPC leadership. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China more than 70 years ago, the Communist Party of China has led the Chinese people in creating two miracles of rapid economic development and long-term social stability in human history. As the world's second largest economy, China's GDP is expected to exceed 100 trillion yuan (about 14.9 trillion US dollars) by 2020, accounting for 17.5 percent of global GDP.

Since the beginning of this year, China has become the first country to bring the COVID-19 under control and resume work and production. China's GDP grew by 0.7 percent year-on-year in the first three quarters of this year, making China the first major economy in the world to achieve positive growth.

It is fair to say that without the leadership of the CPC, China could not have scored today's achievements, nor could it enjoy today's international status. The leadership of the CPC is the choice of history and the Chinese people.

According to a decade-long study by the Kennedy School of Harvard University, the CPC and Chinese government enjoy a 93% satisfaction and support rate among the Chinese people, ranking first in the world.

As the largest political party in the world, the CPC has nearly 92 million members and more than 4.6 million grass-roots party organizations. Running such a big party is no easy task. President Xi Jinping said that it takes a good blacksmith to make good steel. President Xi called for the party to be fully and strictly governed, building a clean government, and strict enforcement of orders and prohibitions so as to enhance the Party's governance capacity and safeguard the authority and leadership of the CPC Central Committee.

The success of CPC is attributed to its strong ability in political leadership, mobilization, coordination and implementation as well as its strong core leadership which could unite all Chinese people to strive for national rejuvenation.

The CPC is committed to advancing socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics and improving scientific and democratic decision-making. Here I would like to tell you that the formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan fully embodies the defining features and outstanding advantages of socialist consultative democracy with Chinese characteristics.

The formulation process of the 14th Five-Year Plan can be summarized as "4 times deliberations and consultations".First of all, the departments and research institutions for economic development carry out preliminary studies. After soliciting opinions from various departments, regions and experts, a draft of basic ideas is formed.

Second, after being submitted to the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee for deliberation, the draft is then provided to all relevant parties to solicit their opinions. Meanwhile, a draft group is set up to formulate the draft of the 14th Five-Year Plan. Then the draft will be submitted to the Fifth Plenary Session for deliberation and formally made public.

Third, after soliciting the opinions of the NPC, the CPPCC, all regions and departments, as well as people from Hong Kong and Macao, the draft will be submitted to the State Council, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and the Political Bureau meeting for deliberation. Finally, the State Council will submit the final version to the NPC for deliberation and approval during the two sessions in March next year.

The formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan strikes a good balance between the top-level design and soliciting opinions of the general public. The Plan has for the first time solicited opinions on the Internet. The adoption rate of these suggestions is as high as 21.88%.

The Plan altogether received over 1 million comments, including more than 1,000 opinions and suggestions. The suggestion-soliciting process for the 14th Five-Year Plan has set a series of new records in terms of scope, participants and forms, and the wisdom and consensus of the whole Party and country have been pooled to the greatest extent.

During this process, President Xi Jinping chaired over seven symposiums to listen to the opinions and suggestions of people outside the Party, entrepreneurs, scientists, grassroots representatives and experts in the fields of economic and social development, education, public health and sports.

All China's major policies and plans are formulated through such a democratic process of repeated deliberations and consultations. This is a concrete and vivid practice of people's democracy under the socialist system. It is an important system designed by the CPC to effectively govern the country, enable all political parties to participate in the deliberation and administration of state affairs, and ensure that the people are the masters of the country.

The third key word is "New Paradigm". The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee proposed that China will continue to follow the new development philosophies of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, build a new development paradigm, and promote high-quality development. This is a strategic choice made by China as it enters a new stage of development and responds to changes in both the domestic and external environment.

China is committed to an innovation-driven development strategy. The Fifth Plenary Session of the CPC Central Committee proposed that China need to stay committed to the central role played by innovation in the modernization drive and the self-reliance in science and technology serves as a pillar of the national development strategy.

In recent years, China has risen to the 14th place in the world in terms of innovation capability, and scientific and technological progress has contributed 59.5 percent to economic growth.

President Xi Jinping said that "clear waters and green mountains are as valuable as mountains of gold and silver". Ecological progress is China's basic state policy. China is committed to green, low-carbon and sustainable development.

This is a concrete measure to implement the new development philosophy and a firm commitment to improve people's quality of life.

President Xi pledged to increase its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC). We aim to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, so as to contribute to the global fight against climate change. President Xi also calls for a complete ban on illegal trade of wildlife and for stronger exchanges and cooperation on the protection of wild fauna and flora.

Here I want to emphasize that China has decided to accelerate the building of a new development paradigm with free flowing domestic circulation as the mainstay and mutually reinforced by international circulation. This is an inevitable choice made by China as its economy enters a new stage in which domestic demand is the main driver of economic growth. It also reflects the objective laws governing the growth of major economies in the world.

On the one hand, we will continue to take expanding domestic demand as our strategic focus, deepen reform across the board, and strive to build an unimpeded domestic economic cycle and market. On the other hand, we will open wider to the outside world at a higher level, further integrate into the international cycle, expand market access for foreign enterprises, and make better use of both domestic and international markets and resources.

What needs to be pointed out is that the new development paradigm emphasizes the dual cycle of mutual opening-up at home and abroad, rather than a single cycle of domestic economic closure. This not only meets China's own development needs, but also will deliver more benefits to people of all countries.

In this dual cycle of domestic and international interactions, China's market size and capacity will continue to expand, which will create broader space for countries around the world to enter the Chinese market and share China's development opportunities.

High-quality development is the fundamental embodiment of the new development paradigm. We are well aware that in the face of the challenges posed by an increasingly complex external environment, the key is to run China's own affairs well and promote high-quality development. We shall pursue high-quality development in the economic, social, cultural, ecological and other fields, and strive for high-quality employment, bringing in and going global so as to advance high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

The fourth key word is Shared Prosperity. As President Xi Jinping pointed out, China is committed to the basic state policy of opening up, pursues development with its doors open and unswervingly upholds a mutually beneficial and win-win strategy of opening up, all of which are reflected in China's new development philosophy and paradigm.

In fact, China cannot develop itself in isolation from the world, and the world needs China for its prosperity. Over the past 10 years and more, China's foreign trade volume grew at an average annual rate of 14.5 percent, reaching 31.54 trillion RMB (about 4.6 trillion US dollars) in 2019, which accounted for 7.38 percent of global trade. The Chinese economy has been contributing more than 30 percent of global growth. China has become the largest trading partner of more than 130 countries and regions around the world, including the United States, Japan, Europe and South Africa. In the next 10 years, the total value of China's imported goods is expected to exceed 22 trillion US dollars.

Faced with the rising unilateralism and protectionism, we have hosted the China International Import Expo (CIIE) for three years in a row. At the Opening Ceremony of the third CIIE, President Xi proposed to turn the China market into a market for the world, a market shared by all, and a market accessible to all, reaffirming China's resolve to further open up and commitment to win-win cooperation. At this year's CIIE, South African companies and their Chinese partners reached intended deals of over 200 million US dollars, covering a lot of high quality South African products.

Bearing in mind the new situation of globalization, President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative for international cooperation, which aims to promote win-win cooperation and common development among countries around the world.

China has signed a total of 201 cooperation documents with 138 countries and 30 international organizations, including the African Union and 44 African countries, which will promote Africa's economic and social development.

Facing the COVID-19 pandemic that caught us all by surprise, China has actively implemented President Xi's proposal of building a community with a shared future for mankind and led the international community in the fight against the virus. China has sent 34 medical expert teams to 32 countries, including Africa, to share experience in the fight against COVID-19. China has also provided large amounts of medical supplies to countries in need.

On many occasions, including the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19, President Xi proposed that it is important to provide more care for African countries and promote the implementation of G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. He pledged that once the development and deployment of COVID-19 vaccine is completed in China, developing countries, including African countries will be among the first to benefit.

At the 12th BRICS Summit, the 27th APEC Leaders' Informal Meeting and the 15th G20 Summit, President Xi reiterated that China will be firmly committed to the global anti-pandemic cooperation, promote world economic recovery, improve global economic governance and enhance regional economic cooperation. China's door of opening-up will open even wider. China will be more vigorous in integrating with the global market and will take greater initiative in deepening international cooperation. In so doing, China will create more opportunities and space for global recovery and growth.

The fifth key word is Governing Proficiency. President Xi pointed out that the socialist system with Chinese characteristics is the fundamental guarantee for the development of contemporary China. We need to give higher priority to institutional building, modernize China's governance system and capacity, and constantly turn institutional advantages into effective governance.

In the fight against COVID-19, the unique advantage of the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, that is concentrating resources to accomplish large, tough and urgent undertakings, has been fully demonstrated.

Since the COVID-19 broke out, bearing the large picture in mind, the CPC Central Committee successively held 21 conferences of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau and its Standing Committee, and made the decisive decision to set up the leading group on COVID-19 response.

We sent a central steering group to lead the anti-COVID-19 battle in Wuhan and Hubei, and established the State Council joint prevention and control mechanism, thus forming a strategic layout of unified command, comprehensive deployment and multi-dimensional prevention and control.

China basically contained the spread of the virus within just over one month. The number of daily new confirmed cases had fallen to single digits within about two months. With around three months, a decisive victory was secured in the battle to defend Hubei Province and its capital city of Wuhan. Major strategic outcomes have been achieved in COVID-19 response, with no more than double digits of new confirmed cases per day in China since April.

There is another example. After the outbreak of the pandemic in Xinfadi wholesale market in Beijing on June 11 this year, 12 million people were tested within 10 days, and we won the battle against the pandemic in Beijing within one month.

China is leading the world in both pandemic prevention and control and economic recovery. It is because of China's extraordinary capability in mobilization, coordination and implementation that we withstand the great risks and challenges unseen in a century posed by COVID-19.

The formulation of the national development strategy is an important aspect of China's national governance capacity. It also demonstrates China's institutional advantages and represents an important experience for China's success. Since 1953, the Chinese government has been formulating a five-yearly plan for national economic and social development, so as to keep the country's development on the right track.

Now China has two long-term and ambitious Centenary Goals, a 15-year medium-term strategic goal, such as Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, as well as a five-year short to medium-term plan, such as the 14th Five-Year Plan. Every year, China will formulate specific action plans for economic and social development. The Chinese government has not only drew up blueprints but also made unremitting efforts to resolutely implement those blueprints, so as to translate them into tangible development outcomes and achieve great leap forward in economic and social development.

It is because of China's institutional and governance capacity that we have full confidence in achieving the 14th Five-Year Plan, Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 and the second centenary goal.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This year marks the 20th anniversary of FOCAC. Over the two decades, by acting along the prevailing trend of peace, development and cooperation, FOCAC has established itself as a pacesetter for cooperation with Africa, a champion of multilateralism, and a fine example of mutually beneficial cooperation.

Over the past 20 years, FOCAC has come a long way on enhancing the solidarity and friendship between China and Africa, and boosting the common development of China and Africa. China-Africa relations have entered a new stage of development. A review of the past 20 years shows that the rapid development of China-Africa relations is largely attributed to the guidance of President Xi Jinping, and the personal efforts of President Cyril Ramaphosa and leaders from other African countries.

In the Third Volume of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, you can find that many parts of China's diplomacy are about President Xi Jinping's articles and speeches on China-South Africa and China-Africa relations.

Among the 18 photos on China's diplomacy, there are three photos about Africa, namely President Xi Jinping attending the Opening Ceremony of the high-level dialogue between Chinese and South African scientists in 2018, the 10th BRICS Johannesburg Summit and the Opening Ceremony of the FOCAC Beijing Summit. This shows that President Xi attaches great importance to South Africa and Africa.

In fact, President Xi has a special bond with South Africa and Africa. In March 2013, President Xi chose Africa as the destination of his first overseas visit after taking office. Up to now, he has paid three state visits to South Africa and visited Africa four times, covering almost all parts of the African continent. In 2015 and 2018, President Xi chaired the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit and Beijing Summit. In June this year, at the critical juncture in the fight against COVID-19, President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa jointly hosted the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19.

President Xi put forward that when developing relations with African countries, China shall follow the principles of sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith, uphold justice and pursue shared interests. President Xi also proposed the ten cooperation plans and eight major initiatives to help Africa achieve lasting peace and sustainable development.

The FOCAC Beijing Summit adopted the Beijing Declaration Toward an Even Stronger China-Africa Community with a Shared Future, which marks an important milestone in China-Africa relation as well as the best footnote to today's Webinar.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

South Africa also has a lot to offer in state governance. South Africa attaches great importance to top-level design and planning and has formulated the "2030 national development plan". Not long ago, President Ramaphosa also unveiled the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the South African government has increased assistance to the needy. All of these measures fully demonstrate South African government's "governing for the good of the people" philosophy.

South Africa strives to achieve the AU Agenda 2063 and advance the African Continental Free Trade Area with its own development. South Africa has leveraged itself to drive the development of the African continent.

I sincerely hope today's discussion will further enhance the exchanges and mutual learning between China, South Africa and other African countries on state governance, help China and South Africa defeat the pandemic and recover the economy at an early date, and elevate china-South Africa ties to a new high in the new era. Here I would like to share four proposals with you.

Firstly, we shall strengthen exchanges and mutual learning to build a China-South Africa and China-Africa community with a shared future. While the past two decades have been extraordinary for FOCAC, they have also seen the Chinese people striving for national rejuvenation and African countries pursuing strength through unity. In this great historical journey, China and Africa have always been there for each other. We have shown the world that with hard work, countries who are still in the process of development can build a better life for their people; and with self-reliance and exploration, China and African countries can find our own path toward prosperity that suits our national conditions.

China is ready to deepen exchanges of experience in state governance with African countries, including South Africa, so as to find the right answers for national governance through mutual learning and work together to enhance governance capacity and achieve international development, social prosperity and national rejuvenation.

Secondly, we shall deepen anti-pandemic cooperation and build a China-Africa community of health for all. China will speed up implementing the outcomes of the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19.

China will continue to provide PPEs, send medical experts, and share anti-pandemic experience with Africa countries. China will provide vaccines to African countries through COVAX, and actively consider providing vaccines to countries in need.

We shall give full play to South Africa's important role as a bridge for BRICS cooperation with Africa. Under the guidance of BRICS public health cooperation, we shall promote the development of the BRICS Vaccine R&D Center, advance collective vaccine research and trials of BRICS countries, including China and South Africa, set up plants, authorize production and recognize each other's standards.

We shall support Chinese enterprises in African countries including South Africa in conducting the Phase III vaccine clinical trials, and exploring the use of the traditional medicine in the prevention and control of COVID-19, so as to help African countries defeat the pandemic at an early date.

Thirdly, we shall act on the new vision of development and build a China-Africa community of common development.

---In order to promote post-COVID-19 economic recovery, China will continue to advance the high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. Our two countries need to speed up the formulation and implementation of the China-Africa Infrastructure Cooperation Plan, and increase investment in Africa in such areas as infrastructure construction, special economic zones and industrial park building, equipment manufacturing, industrial capacity cooperation, energy and resources development cooperation and financial cooperation, so as to help Africa better integrate into the global value chain and industrial chain.

---China will vigorously support the construction of African Continental Free Trade Area, continue to conduct free trade negotiations with relevant African countries and regions, and help more competitive African products and services enter the Chinese market.

---China supports the UN in holding the Food Systems Summit next year and will join hands with all countries, including African countries to address the challenge of food security.

---The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has increased the economic burden on African countries. China follows this closely and actively responds to Africa's demands. In spite of its own difficulties, China has fully implemented the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and put off debt repayment totaling over 1.3 billion US dollars.

China supports the decision on DSSI extension and will continue to work with other parties for its full implementation. China will increase the level of debt suspension and relief for countries facing particular difficulties.

Meanwhile, China will cancel the interest-free loan debt of relevant African countries maturing by the end of 2020 under the framework of FOCAC.

China calls on the international multilateral financial institutions and private creditors to increase support to the African countries which are severely hit by the pandemic, including debt restructuring and the further extension of the debt relief period.

We hope these measures will help African countries alleviate their current economic burdens. China is ready to take stronger actions to support African countries in tiding over the current difficulties and achieving self-sustainable economic development.

---Our two sides could also expand cooperation in new forms of business such as 5G, digital economy, e-commerce, smart cities and clean energy, and jointly embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Fourthly, we shall practice multilateralism and build a community with a shared future for mankind. China, South Africa and other African countries all firmly support multilateralism, oppose unilateralism, protectionism and bullying, and support the international system with the United Nations at its core.

Africa's Ubuntu Philosophy fits in well with the vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind. Under the guidance of these two visions, we need to be further engaged in global governance, implement the important consensus of the Summits commemorating the 75th anniversary of the UN, the 12th BRICS Summit and the G20 Riyadh Summit, make the international order more just and equitable, and safeguard the common interests of developing countries.

In closing, I wish this Webinar a complete success! I sincerely hope you could share your insightful views on the development of China and South Africa and build up new consensus on the development of China-South Africa relations.

Thank you!

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