Fourth, we continued to implement the innovation-driven development strategy and further increased innovation capacity and performance.
We greatly improved the innovation ecosystem to keep innovators of all kinds fully motivated. The reform of the management system for science and technology was deepened, steps were taken to achieve breakthroughs in core technologies for key fields, and the building of major science and technology infrastructure and innovation centers was stepped up.
We strengthened the principal position of enterprises in technological innovation, and extended the policy on raising the proportion of additional tax-deductible R&D costs to cover all enterprises.
We developed policies and measures to support innovation and business startups. The volume of contracted technology transactions grew by over 30 percent. The contribution of technological advances to economic growth has risen to 58.5 percent.
Fifth, we intensified reform and opening-up and continued to strengthen the momentum of development.
We deepened reforms of state capital and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and made new gains in upgrading and restructuring SOEs and in improving their quality and performance. In addressing difficulties and issues encountered by private enterprises, we used every feasible means to help them overcome problems and concerns.
We advanced the reform of the fiscal and tax systems, and launched performance-based budget management reform across the country. We reformed the financial regulatory system and improved the mechanisms through which interest rates and exchange rates are set by the market. Steady progress was made in reforms related to agriculture, rural affairs, social programs, and environmental protection.
In opening-up, we introduced a series of major moves. Joint efforts to pursue the Belt and Road Initiative are producing a pace-setting effect, cooperation mechanisms for countries along its routes are steadily improving, and economic cooperation, trade, and cultural and people-to-people exchanges under the Initiative have gathered momentum.
We launched policies to ensure steady growth in foreign trade, and cut the time needed for customs clearance by more than half. Import tariffs on some goods were lowered, and the overall tariff level was reduced from 9.8 to 7.5 percent.
A number of new integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce were established. Reform measures proven to work in pilot free trade zones were replicated and applied elsewhere. We shortened significantly the negative list for foreign investment, opened up sectors like finance and automobiles wider to foreign competition, and sped up the implementation of a number of major foreign investment projects. The number of new foreign enterprises grew by nearly 70 percent.
Sixth, we pursued balanced development across rural and urban areas and regions and sped up the formation of a pattern of positive interplay.
The rural revitalization strategy was implemented with vigor; grain output was kept above 650 million metric tons. Solid progress was made in the pursuit of new urbanization, and close to 14 million people originally from rural areas gained permanent urban residency.
A full range of reforms and innovative measures were introduced to advance development in the western region, revitalize the northeast, energize the central region, and support the eastern region in spearheading development.
Major progress was made in boosting the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Along the Yangtze Economic Belt, efforts to prioritize ecological conservation and boost green development were strengthened.
Substantive steps were taken in the planning and building of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge was opened to traffic.
We expanded support for reforms and development in old revolutionary base areas, areas with large ethnic minority populations, border areas, and poor areas.
Another 4,100 kilometers of high-speed railways opened to traffic, and over 6,000 kilometers of expressways and more than 300,000 kilometers of rural roads were built or improved.
With all this, the balance in development between rural and urban areas and between regions has continuously improved.
Seventh, we continued to ensure and improve living standards in the course of pursuing development and enabled the people to share more fully and fairly in the benefits of reform and development.
We took prompt steps to ease the impact of changes in the external environment on employment.
We made strong moves to ensure the implementation of policies on pay packages of teachers in compulsory education, stepped up the development of small rural schools and boarding schools in towns and townships, and fostered development of substance in higher education.
We established a system for the central government to allocate nationwide enterprise employees’ basic aged-care insurance funds, raised retirees’ basic pensions, and increased the minimum basic aged-care pension benefits for rural and non-working urban residents from 70 to 88 yuan per person per month.
We continued to increase benefits for entitled groups and subsistence allowances, and ensured that all people with disabilities who are eligible can access living allowances and nursing care subsidies.
For demobilized military personnel, we improved service provision and management and protected their lawful rights and interests.
Coordinated medical service, medical insurance, and pharmaceutical reforms continued. We made steady progress in developing the tiered diagnosis and treatment model. We raised the level of government subsidies for rural and non-working urban residents’ basic medical insurance and the reimbursement rate of their serious illness insurance.
The reform for evaluation and approval of new medicines was stepped up; the prices of 17 cancer drugs were slashed and these drugs were included in the national medical insurance catalog.
We sped up the implementation of cultural projects designed to benefit the people, and continued to strengthen public cultural services at the community level. Fitness-for-All activities flourished. Chinese athletes excelled themselves in international competitions.