David Daokui Li: Creating and Seizing Strategic Opportunities for Development

During a videoconference on March 7, 2022 at the Fifth Session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), David Daokui Li delivered a speech entitled "Creating and Seizing Strategic Opportunities for Development and Creating a New Miracle for China's Economic Development" in the main conference hall. Based on an analysis of national and global conditions as well as a systematic assessment of historic cases of the rise of great powers, he argues that China is still in a period of strategic opportunity for development.

The following is a transcript of the speech (for the Chinese version, click here):

In the face of the world's major changes unseen in a century, the central government has stressed that China's present and future development is still in a period of strategic opportunity. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, through the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee and the efforts of the whole nation, China's economy has steadily rebounded and become a source of stability for the global economy. However, as a result of the decline in economic growth and changes in the international situation, there is inevitably some anxiety in society that the period of strategic opportunity for China's development has passed. In this regard, we must conduct an objective analysis and reshape the consensus.

Is China still in a period of strategic opportunity for development? We must base our answer to this question on national and global conditions, systematically assess the historical cases of the rise of great powers—including the United States, Germany, and Japan—and recognize the objective laws of the development of great powers. Based on these analyses, we can conclude that China is still in a period of strategic opportunity for development.

From a domestic perspective, strategic opportunities for development are manifested in three aspects. First, through the establishment of a large unified domestic market, the strong expansion power inherent in the market economy will be further released and the advantages of a large country will be brought into play. At present, there is great potential in China's urbanization and rearrangement of economic geography. There is still a lot of space for the cross-regional flow of products, production factors, and information. Furthermore, there are also hundreds of millions of people who long for a better life and are willing to work hard for it—they are the lifeblood of China's long-term economic improvement. In addition, it is recommended to accelerate the establishment of a unified national carbon market to drive carbon reduction investment and industrial restructuring, transforming pressure into growth momentum.

However, a large unified market will not take root on its own. Rather, it will require constant care and correction from the government. Furthermore, the government itself must accept the incentives and constraints of various mechanisms, which is the foundational principle of government and economics. At present, it is recommended to give local governments more space to activate their enthusiasm for economic development while simultaneously better protecting the development momentum of the private economy. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the central government has repeatedly stressed the need to give full play to the decisive role of the market in resource allocation while also improving the role of government and building a new 'dual circulation' development pattern. Under dual circulation, a large domestic cycle acts as the mainstay while the dual domestic and international cycles mutually vitalize one another, which is fundamentally to promote the establishment of a large domestic unified market.

The second development opportunity is the continuous improvement of human resources. Human resources are the total social labor reserve taking into account the quality of the population. The average health and education levels of Chinese society continue to improve, and the population of healthy and skilled citizens continues to rise, largely compensating for the impact of slowing population growth. It is recommended to further accelerate the reform of maternity, lifelong education, and flexible retirement systems to resolve people's anxieties in these areas. By protecting and utilizing human resources, we can solidify the fundamental drivers of long-term economic development.

The third opportunity for development is the wave of technological revolution paired with the deep-rooted awareness and mentality of open learning in Chinese society. Sustained economic development stems from innovation. With the current surge in technological innovation, China is expected to become a leader in many niche areas of science and technology. The most important factor driving innovation in science and technology is openness to learning. The great nations that have successfully developed throughout history have not necessarily been open in terms of trade and commerce, but have invariably been excellent learners. The Chinese people, who have experienced reform and opening up, have already reached a consensus on open learning. The younger generation is especially urged to pass on the spirit of open learning—learning from the strengths of our competitors with an open mind is the greatest form of self-confidence and patriotism.

In terms of the external environment, China is still in a period of opportunity for development. At present, the game of great powers is intensifying, and China has become a major defender of world peace by upholding the concepts of peaceful development and a community of common destiny. More importantly, as an independent and autonomous power, we are proactively addressing international challenges and have achieved periodic victories. Currently, some Western politicians have identified China as their strategic competitor and advocate blocking China on all sides. By opening up to the outside world, promoting the 'Belt and Road' initiative, and actively participating in global governance, China has been able to extend the benefits of its development to more countries and has become a firm defender and major leader of economic globalization. It is recommended to cultivate a strong, confident, and broad-minded citizenship mentality to support the country's diplomatic strategy.

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has proposed that China's development is in an important period of strategic opportunity, which is a far-sighted scientific judgment. What is particularly important is that, as a world power, strategic opportunities for development are not something we can simply wait and hope for. Rather, we must create them step by step by maintaining firm confidence, transforming our anxiety into motivation, persisting in reform and opening up, remaining open-minded to the world, and acting in accordance with the laws of the economy and development of a big country. In this period of strategic opportunity, the Chinese economy will undoubtedly be able to create another miracle, laying a solid foundation for the realization of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation.