REPORT ON THE WORK OF THE GOVERNMENT
Delivered at the Fourth Session of the 13th National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China on March 5, 2021
Premier of the State Council
On behalf of the State Council, I will now report to you on the work of the government and ask for your deliberation and approval. I also ask members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) for their comments.
I. A Review of Our Work in 2020
Last year was an extraordinary year in the history of the People’s Republic of China. Facing the severe combined impact of a sudden coronavirus epidemic and a deep global economic recession, we the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, responded with tremendous tenacity.
We achieved major strategic success in our response to Covid-19 and China was the world’s only major economy to achieve growth. We attained a complete victory in the fight against poverty, and we scored decisive achievements in securing a full victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
Indeed, our achievements, which have won the approval of our people and global recognition, will be remembered in history.
Our development goals and tasks for the year were accomplished, and major headway has been made in China’s reform, opening up, and socialist modernization drive.
Throughout this fierce battle against Covid-19, the CPC Central Committee put protecting the people and human life above everything else, with General Secretary Xi Jinping personally taking charge and making response decisions. Thanks to the tireless efforts of all of us, our gains in controlling Covid-19 were continuously consolidated.
In response to evolving epidemic dynamics, we made well-timed adjustments to our response approaches. We improved routine control mechanisms and effectively suppressed several local outbreaks of the epidemic. With these actions, we protected the health and safety of the people to the greatest extent possible, and created the conditions for returning to normal life and work.
Last year, we carried out the following work in implementing the decisions and plans of the Party Central Committee, and to respond to Covid-19 and advance economic and social development:
1. We formulated and implemented macro policies to meet the urgent needs of market entities and kept the fundamentals of the economy stable.
Facing shocks of a severity rarely seen before, based on what we had done to ensure stability on six key fronts, we carried out the task of maintaining security in six key areas – particularly job security, basic living needs, and the operations of market entities.* By maintaining security, we were able to deliver stability while also pursuing progress.
Based on China’s realities, we refrained from adopting a deluge of strong stimulus policies but took swift, decisive and well-considered steps, thus maintaining a desired balance between various macro policies.
Using approaches of reform and innovation, we eased the difficulties of our enterprises and energized them. And we helped micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and self-employed individuals, which are large in number, extensive in scope and took the most direct hit from Covid-19, weather what was a very tough time.
By making both time-limited large-scale tax and fee cuts and institutional arrangements, we reduced the burden on market entities by more than 2.6 trillion yuan for the year, including 1.7 trillion yuan in social insurance premium cuts and exemptions.
We adopted new approaches in implementing macro policies. The central government established a mechanism to directly allocate two trillion yuan of new funding to prefecture- and county-level governments, while provincial-level governments also increased their funding allocations to governments at these levels. With these two steps, we provided prefecture- and county-level governments with additional and timely fiscal resources to assist local businesses and residents.
Banks were given support to increase loans to businesses and lower interest rates in a targeted way. MSMEs were allowed to postpone principal and interest repayments on their loans, and inclusive finance lending by large commercial banks to micro and small businesses increased by more than 50 percent. The real economy thus received an infusion of 1.5 trillion yuan from financial institutions.
Point-to-point transportation services were provided to large enterprises to help them resume operations.
Thanks to all these arduous efforts, China was able to take the lead in reopening its economy. With gross domestic product (GDP) for the year growing by 2.3 percent, a better-than-expected recovery was achieved. We thus not only gained fresh experience in macro regulation, but also delivered the best possible outcome at an acceptable cost.
2. We gave top priority to stabilizing employment and ensuring living standards and effectively safeguarded people’s wellbeing.
Employment is pivotal to people’s wellbeing. Our efforts to keep market entities afloat are aimed at maintaining stable employment and meeting basic living needs. Local governments across the country provided more incentives to stabilize and expand employment, thus enabling businesses and their employees to work hand-in-hand to overcome their difficulties.
Multiple channels were tapped to ensure employment for key groups, and startups and innovation were encouraged as a way to create jobs. The number of new market entities began growing rapidly again, leading to the creation of a large number of new jobs. A total of 11.86 million urban jobs were added, and the year-end surveyed urban unemployment rate dropped to 5.2 percent.
It is truly remarkable that China, the largest developing country in the world, has kept overall employment stable in the face of such an enormous shock.
The supply and price stability of daily necessities was ensured; the consumer price index (CPI) posted a 2.5 percent growth. Practices like working from home, online shopping, and contactless delivery were widely adopted.
We expanded the coverage of unemployment insurance schemes, and extended timely assistance to those who were hit particularly hard by Covid-19. Close to six million additional people received subsistence allowances or extreme poverty aid, and more than eight million temporary assistance grants were disbursed.
We fought against severe floods, typhoons, and other natural disasters and spared no effort to provide rescue and relief to disaster victims and make appropriate arrangements for them, thus protecting people’s lives and property and ensuring their basic living needs.
3. We made decisive progress in the three critical battles against poverty, pollution and potential risk, achieving major targets and tasks as planned.
We increased funding for poverty alleviation by a considerable sum. Counties and villages facing difficulty in poverty eradication were placed under special supervision to see they fully implemented all assistance and support policies. We assisted on a priority basis poor workers in securing jobs and poor rural migrant workers who had returned home in finding new jobs, thus keeping rural residents’ incomes from nonagricultural work stable. We worked harder to reduce poverty through the development of local industries and promote consumer spending on products from poor areas. We strengthened monitoring for groups who are liable to return to, or fall into, poverty, and provided them with assistance.
All remaining poor rural residents, totaling 5.51 million in early 2020, were lifted from poverty, as were all of China’s remaining 52 poor counties.
We continued working to keep our skies blue, our waters clear, and our lands pollution-free, and accomplished the objectives for pollution prevention and control for the current stage. We carried out major projects for protecting and restoring key ecosystems in the Yangtze River and Yellow River basins and along coastlines, and stepped up our ecological conservation endeavors.
We took prudent steps to defuse local government debt risks and acted swiftly to defuse a number of major financial risks and potential dangers.
4. We continued to advance reform and opening up and further boosted the vitality and momentum of development.
We improved the systems and mechanisms for the market allocation of production factors and strengthened the protection of property rights. We furthered reforms to streamline administration and delegate power, improve regulation, and upgrade services; and the Regulations on Improving the Business Environment were implemented. We adopted a three-year action plan for SOE reform and supported the development of private businesses. The underlying systems of the capital market were improved. We made solid strides in reforms related to agriculture, rural development, and social programs.
Steady progress was achieved in the joint pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Major measures to develop the Hainan Free Trade Port and other major initiatives were launched. The third China International Import Expo and the China International Fair for Trade in Services were hosted successfully. China played an important role in the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, and it concluded negotiations on an investment agreement with the European Union.
China’s industrial chains and supply chains were kept stable. And its foreign trade and utilized foreign investment posted steady growth.
5. We vigorously promoted innovation in science and technology and accelerated industrial transformation and upgrading.
We developed China’s international centers for science and technology innovation and comprehensive national science centers, and set up the country’s first group of national laboratories. Last year saw a stream of scientific and technological breakthroughs, like the Tianwen-1 Mars mission, the Chang’e-5 lunar mission, and the Fendouzhe (Striver) deep-sea manned submersible.
We intensified efforts to make major breakthroughs in core technologies in key fields. Intellectual property protection was strengthened. We supported the application of scientific and technological advances, encouraged collaborative innovation among small, medium, and large enterprises, and promoted pilot reforms on all-around innovation. More was done to upgrade the industrial sector with digital and smart technologies; and strategic emerging industries maintained rapid development.
6. We advanced new urbanization and rural revitalization and improved the layout of urban-rural development and development among regions.
Efforts were intensified to rebuild old urban residential areas. By adopting city-specific policies, we promoted the stable and healthy development of the housing market.
Grain output continued to increase, and hog production rebounded at a faster rate. We took solid steps in advancing rural development, and markedly improved rural living environments.
We continued to build up the production, supply, storage, and marketing systems for coal, petroleum, natural gas, and electricity, and enhanced our capacity to ensure energy security. We improved mechanisms for promoting coordinated development between regions, and introduced a range of new measures to implement major strategies for regional development.
7. We stepped up law-based administration, promoted social advancement, and safeguarded social harmony and stability.
We submitted nine legislative proposals to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for deliberation, and formulated or revised 37 sets of administrative regulations. We worked with keen attention to handle the suggestions and proposals of NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members.
Online school teaching was introduced nationwide, and students returned to school for the autumn semester. Over 10 million high school graduates successfully completed the college entrance examination. We pushed ahead with the comprehensive reform of education, and we achieved the goal of increasing student enrollments in vocational colleges by one million.
Efforts were redoubled to strengthen the public health system. We scaled up the capacity for conducting large-scale nucleic acid testing, and all the medical bills for treating Covid-19 patients were covered by the government. Basic pension payments for retirees and minimum basic pension benefits for rural and urban non-working residents were both raised. Pension benefits were paid on time and in full, and provincial-level collection and payout of enterprise workers’ old-age insurance funds was realized.
Better public cultural services were provided. Primary-level governance in urban and rural areas was enhanced. Solid steps were taken to address public complaints. Audit-based oversight was vigorously conducted, and State Council accountability inspections were carried out.
We conducted the seventh population census and the poverty reduction survey. We intensified efforts to prevent and handle workplace accidents. Supervision of food, drugs, and vaccines was tightened up. We took a full range of measures to maintain law and order, and continued to combat organized crime and root out local criminal gangs, thus making further headway in pursuing the Peaceful China initiative.
We implemented the Party Central Committee’s strategic plan for exercising full and strict Party self-governance, and did more to improve Party conduct, build a clean government, and fight corruption. We consolidated the gains from the initiative to raise awareness of the need to stay true to the Party’s founding mission. We strictly complied with the central Party leadership’s eight-point decision on improving work conduct, and we made sustained efforts to ease the burdens of those working on the ground.
We were successful in pursuing China’s major country diplomacy. President Xi Jinping and other Party and state leaders hosted or attended, via video link, major diplomatic events, including the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against Covid-19, high-level meetings commemorating the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the 73rd World Health Assembly, the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Riyadh, the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, the 22nd China-EU Leaders’ Meeting, and the East Asia leaders’ meetings on cooperation.
We upheld multilateralism and endeavored to build a human community with a shared future. We supported global cooperation on combating Covid-19 and called for building a global health community. China thus made important contributions to advancing global peace and development.
Our work last year was truly challenging. Yet, local authorities and government departments across the country kept in mind the big picture and shouldered their responsibilities. Market entities, over one hundred million in number, responded to shocks with fortitude and resilience. Our people worked hard and fought adversity in close solidarity and with the unyielding spirit of the Chinese nation, thus proving themselves true heroes. This is the well of strength that enables us to rise to every challenge and overcome every difficulty.
We owe our achievements last year to the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, to the sound guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and to the concerted efforts of the Party, the armed forces, and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups. On behalf of the State Council, I wish to express sincere gratitude to all our people, and to all other political parties, people’s organizations, and public figures from all sectors of society. I express sincere appreciation to our fellow countrymen and women in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, in Taiwan, and overseas. I also wish to express heartfelt thanks to the governments of other countries, international organizations, and friends across the world who have shown understanding and support for us in China as we pursue modernization.
While recognizing our achievements, we are also keenly aware of the difficulties and challenges before us.
As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, instability and uncertainty are mounting on the international landscape, and the global economy continues to face grave challenges. Domestically, there are still weak links in our work to control Covid-19. The foundation for achieving our country’s economic recovery needs to be further consolidated, impediments to consumer spending remain, and investment growth lacks sustainability. Our MSMEs and self-employed individuals are still finding the going tough, and the pressure in maintaining stable employment is mounting. Our innovation capacity in key areas needs to be improved. Some local governments have serious budgetary deficits. In forestalling and defusing risks in the financial sector and other areas, we face formidable tasks. We still have a long way to go in protecting the environment. And many weaknesses in areas that are important to people’s basic needs wait to be addressed.
There is also room for improvement in the work of the government. Both pointless formalities and bureaucratism persist to varying degrees. A small number of officials fail to fulfill their responsibilities and are unwilling or unable to carry out their duties. Instances of corruption still occur in some sectors.
We will face these problems and challenges squarely, make every effort to make improvements, and do all we can to live up to our people’s expectations.