CHINESE President Xi Jinping vowed to build a “great modern socialist country” as he addressed the Communist Party congress in Beijing yesterday.
However, he warned that the challenges of the nine-year economic downturn would have to be overcome.
In his speech to more than 2,000 delegates at the Great Hall of the People, near Tiananmen Square, on the first day of the party’s 19th five-yearly conference, Mr Xi outlined a two-phase development plan to run from 2020 to 2050.
From 2020 to 2035, the ruling party will build on the “moderately prosperous society” until “socialist modernisation is realised,” he said.
He added that the second 15-year phase would “develop China into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, cultur
ally advanced, harmonious and beautiful” — the last word referring to the environment.
Mr Xi acknowledged the main challenge now was the contradiction “between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.
“Not only have their material and cultural needs grown, their demands for democracy, rule of law, fairness and justice, security and a better environment are increasing,” he said.
On foreign trade, the president said China’s “prospects are bright but the challenges are grim.”
But he pledged that Beijing “will not close its door to the world; it will only become more and more open.
“China will significantly ease market access and protect the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors,” he promised.
He said that the country “must develop the public sector” and that the state-owned coal and steel industries would be shrunk.
Mr Xi also hailed the massive “One Belt, One Road” infrastructure project.
And he eschewed imperialist ambitions, saying: “No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion.”
But he was unapologetic about Beijing’s land reclamation and other development efforts in its disputed South China Sea territories.
The congress will elect a 200-strong central committee, which will then choose a 25-member politburo with a smaller standing committee, on which the president and prime minister will have seats.