China faces unprecedented headwinds not seen in a hundred years, including a no-holds-barred, anti-China United States, a prolonged global pandemic and a proxy war against Russia with global repercussions.
There remain deep-seated Western misconceptions, distortions and outright malignments over what President Xi Jinping's leadership is trying to achieve.
The following perspectives may be useful.
First, as portrayed by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in 2021, China "stood up" under Chairman Mao Zedong's "China 1.0". Some people, it said, "got rich first" under Deng Xiaoping's "China 2.0".
Now, "China 3.0" is President Xi's sprint toward the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, amid the pursuit of the second centenary goal of turning China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious, and beautiful by the time the People's Republic of China celebrates its centenary in 2049. This was reaffirmed in a constitutional oath-taking ceremony in Beijing at the recently concluded two sessions, the annual meetings of the nation's top legislative and political advisory bodies.
However, national betterment, a common desire of all sovereign countries, was hyped by Michael Pillsbury in his 2016 book The Hundred-Year Marathon: China's Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower. Four decades ago, let alone 100 years, China was too poor and backward for such grandiose designs.
Second, new Premier Li Qiang has a decades-long track record as an innovative, pro-market, pro-growth achiever, committed to openness to foreign investment, the new economy and entrepreneurship. A similar criterion of selecting the best is seen in the Communist Party of China's Central Committee, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and the top leadership, with a large proportion of highly educated and experienced individuals, many with doctoral degrees, representing a wide range of fields including finance, nuclear sciences, aeronautics, precision engineering, ecology and minority affairs.
Third, according to recent findings of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute's Critical Technology Tracker, China is establishing a stunning lead in 37 out of 44 high-impact emerging technology domains, spanning defense, space exploration, robotics, energy, the environment, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, advanced materials and key quantum technology areas. This is supported by an expected annual addition of some 77,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics PhD graduates by 2025.
Responding to the nation's graying demographic, China is embracing the Fourth and Fifth Industrial Revolutions with a vengeance, with extensive factory robotics and mechanized farming, automated staffless hotels, stores and restaurants, and a cashless society with universal digital payments.
Enhanced productivity is also driven by linking all of China's dynamic city clusters with the world's largest high-speed train network, set to almost double to 70,000 kilometers by 2035. These ultramodern trains will help to double the nation's middle-income group to 800 million by 2035. Hence, the two sessions emphasized economic rebalancing toward domestic consumption.
Fourth, according to a CGTN report dated Feb 27, Horgos, a border port in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, handled more than 1,000 China-Europe freight trains in just two months in 2023, signifying that exports to Europe are picking up rapidly.
Fifth, China is embracing high-quality growth along with a quest for ecological civilization, harking back to the Chinese philosophy of harmony between humans and nature.
In addition, as the nation works to create a more level playing field for smaller enterprises, the two sessions emphasized the role of the private sector in boosting economic vitality and innovation and creating jobs.
Furthermore, the two sessions have reemphasized the importance of Taiwan's peaceful unification through people-to-people and cultural exchanges.
China is also at the economic heart of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trading group, which represents one-third of global GDP and a third of the world's population. By 2035, emerging economies' share of global GDP is projected to rise to 61 percent, as measured by purchasing power parity.
The two sessions have unveiled a game-changing revamp of Party and State institutions regarding finance, data and technology in the interests of national stability, security and self-reliance.
All in all, the two sessions outlined a solid foundation for advancing "China 3.0" under President Xi's leadership.