More opportunities ahead for China-Zim cooperation

Source: More opportunities ahead for China-Zim cooperation | Herald (Opinion)

Guo Shaochun
Special Correspondent

Last week, Zimbabwe launched National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1), which charts policies, institutional reforms and national priorities needed from 2021-2025 to achieve an upper middle income economy under Vision 2030.

Back in China, from October 26 to 29, the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was held in Beijing.

The session adopted CPC Central Committee’s proposals for the formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.

Party plenums are formal meetings of the Central Committee, the highest level “congress,” as it were, of the ruling Communist Party of China, attended by more than 300 full and alternate members.

The fifth plenum marks an inflection point between China’s two centenary goals: the first, the moderately prosperous society, achieved this year, 2020, highlighted by the elimination of all extreme poverty; the journey towards the second, fully building a modern socialist country, will begin in 2021.

Both China and Zimbabwe have come to a new starting point in development.

What are the messages from the milestone meeting in Beijing? What new opportunities can we expect to further grow China-Zimbabwe cooperation?

The past five years

Drawn up every five years since 1953, the FYP is a major feature of China’s governance system, setting growth targets and defining economic and social development policies to ensure national strategies keep pace with the times.

During the 13th FYP period, which is coming to an end in 2020, China has made great progress: its GDP is expected to surpass the 100 trillion yuan (US$14,9 trillion) mark in 2020; more than 55 million people have been lifted out of poverty; it has built the world’s largest social security system; its basic medical insurance covers over 1,3 billion people; its basic old-age insurance covers nearly 1 billion people; more than 60 million new jobs were created in the urban areas.

The next five years

In the 14th FYP, the first keyword is “dual-circulation.”

China will make policies to unleash the full potential of the domestic market, encouraging companies to provide higher-quality goods and services to better stimulate domestic demand.

China will give greater access to foreign investors and encourage Chinese companies to trade more with the outside world.

This round of opening-up will be “on a greater scale, across more sectors and on a deeper level”.

The second key word is “innovation,” which is mentioned 47 times in the draft proposal.

The new plan really puts innovation at the heart of China’s future plans.

China will strive to make major breakthroughs in core technologies in key areas and become a global leader in innovation.

Many predict there will be increased input in the coming years in emerging sectors, such as biotechnology, semiconductors and new energy vehicles.

Another area of focus is green growth. In the draft proposal, there are no rigid GDP targets; “green growth” is the new buzzword. China will allocate energy and resources more appropriately and raise utilisation efficiency.

It will continue reducing emissions of major pollutants and improving ecological environment, make ecological security shields more solid, and greatly improve urban and rural living environment.

All these keywords point to China’s focus on high-quality development.

In 2021, China will enter a new development stage and embark on a new journey of building a modern socialist country in all aspects.

In this new stage, to promote high-quality development.

Until 2035

This year, for the first time since 1953, a 15-year “long-term vision” is mentioned along with a new FYP, aiming for 2035 when the country’s socialist modernization is expected to be basically achieved.

It predicts a vibrant economy, robust technological capacity, and comprehensive national strength.

An array of goals were set for 2035:

China’s economic and technological strength, and composite national strength will increase significantly. A new stride will be made in the growth of the economy and the per capita income of urban and rural residents.

Making major breakthroughs in core technologies in key areas, China will become a global leader in innovation.

New industrialisation, IT application, urbanisation, and agricultural modernisation will be basically achieved.

China will finish building a modernised economy;

The modernisation of China’s system and capacity for governance will be basically achieved.

The people’s rights to participate and to develop as equals will be adequately protected. The rule of law for the country, the government, and society will be basically in place.

China will become a strong country in culture, education, talent, sports and health.

The well-rounded development of all people and social etiquette and civility will be significantly enhanced.

China’s cultural soft power will grow much stronger.

Eco-friendly ways of work and life will be advanced to cover all areas of society.

Carbon emission will steadily decline after reaching a peak, and there will be a fundamental improvement in the environment with the goal of building a Beautiful China basically reached;

The opening-up will reach a new stage with substantial growth of the country’s strengths for participating in international economic cooperation and competition.

The per capita GDP will reach the level of moderately developed countries.

The size of the middle-income group will be significantly expanded.

Equitable access to basic public services will be ensured. Disparities in urban-rural development, in development between regions, and in living standards will be significantly reduced.

The implementation of the Peaceful China initiative will be promoted to a higher level.

The modernisation of national defence and the military will be basically achieved.

People will lead a better life, and more notable and substantial progress will be achieved in promoting well-rounded human development and achieving common prosperity for everyone.

The plug-in for Zimbabwe

Promising to deliver broad-based transformation, new wealth creation and expand horizons of economic opportunities for all Zimbabweans, Zimbabwe’s NDS1 aims to strengthen macroeconomic stability, strengthen social infrastructure and social safety nets, ensure sustainable environmental protection and resilience, promote good governance, modernise the economy through use of ICT and digital technology, among a number of other priority targets.

Even with only a cursory glance, one will see the similar philosophies and priorities in the Chinese and Zimbabwean strategies.

For example, both are committed to making development inclusive, environment-friendly, people-centred, and innovation-driven.

Going forward, there are two levels – bilateral and multilateral – on which China and Zimbabwe can engage each other for more opportunities.

Bilaterally, there is a lot to do in agriculture, manufacturing, innovation, and developing a digital economy.

Other areas such as environmental protection, education, healthcare, and culture also look highly promising.

On the multilateral level, the real deal is in the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which is going to begin its third decade next year.

China’s 14th FYP and the 2035 Vision resonate well with the areas of China and Africa have been working on under FOCAC.

China’s renewed momentum in these areas will put FOCAC on an even stronger footing.

For decades, China and Zimbabwe have been marching side by side, liberating our peoples from foreign invaders, building a strong and independent nation, and promoting democracy and justice in the international community.

Our time-tested friendship will embrace an even more promising future as we embark on a new journey in 2021.

  • HE Guo Shaochun is the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Zimbabwe.