Scholars' views

Scientifically Handling the Relationship between Common Prosperity and High-quality Development

As we embark on a new journey to build China into a modern socialist country in all aspects and striding towards the second centenary goal, there are two strategic tasks before us: one is common prosperity; and the other is high-quality development. So, what about the relationship between common prosperity and high-quality development? How to deal with their relationship? These are major theoretical and practical issues that we have to answer. When presiding over the 10th meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs, President Xi Jinping emphasized that common prosperity is an essential requirement of socialism and an important feature of Chinese-style modernization. We should adhere to the people-centered philosophy and promote common prosperity when pursuing high-quality development. What President Xi said has actually shown the way to understand and solve these problems.



The Relationship between Common Prosperity and High-quality Development


Common prosperity is the goal that the CPC has been uniting and leading the Chinese people to strive for. During the period of new-democratic revolution, the main task is to found a new China and help the Chinese people stand up. Given the poor national conditions at that time, it was impossible for the people to get rich, much less to get rich together. In the period of socialist revolution and construction, the Party put in place the socialist system and pushed forward socialist construction, laying the institutional and material foundation for the development of socialism in the country. However, constrained by the weak economic foundation, it could only manage to meet the basic needs of the people and was not yet able to achieve common prosperity. During the new period of reform and opening up, the Party conducted a thorough review of the historical experience of both positive and negative aspects and decided to break the shackles of the traditional planned economy system and allow a portion of people and regions to get rich first so as to further unleash and develop the productive forces. In the process of development, some problems also emerged, including the widening gaps between regions, between cities and villages, and in income distribution, as well as in enjoyment of public goods.


Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, the Central Committee of the Party with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has placed greater importance on progressively narrowing the gaps and achieving common prosperity for all people. To this end, it has adopted effective measures to safeguard and improve the people's livelihood, led the people to win the tough battle against extreme poverty, and completed the building of a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, creating favorable conditions for facilitating common prosperity. In such circumstances, realizing common prosperity step by step has not only become extremely necessary, but also more possible than ever.


In striving for common prosperity, we have come to realize more profoundly in theory that common prosperity is the essential requirement of socialism and the common expectation of the people. Our promotion of economic and social development is, in the final analysis, to achieve common prosperity for all the people. Common prosperity itself is an important goal of socialist modernization. We should always take meeting people's new expectations for a better life as the starting point and ultimate objective of development and make continuous efforts to gradually solve this problem in the process of realizing modernization. The common prosperity we are talking about is the common prosperity of all the people. It is the prosperity of all people in their material and spiritual lives. Common prosperity does not mean prosperity for a selected few, nor is it neat and tidy egalitarianism. We must deeply study the objectives of different stages of the pursuit for common prosperity and advance in phases. The realization of common prosperity is not only an economic issue, but also a major political issue vital to the foundation of the Party's governance. We must not allow the gap between the rich and the poor to grow wider, or the poor to get poorer and the rich to get richer, or an insurmountable gulf between the rich and the poor. According to President Xi Jinping's report at the 19th CPC National Congress, solid progress will be made toward prosperity for everyone by 2035, and common prosperity for everyone will be basically achieved and the Chinese people enjoy happier, safer, and healthier lives by the middle of the 21st century. At the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, more specific requirements were put forward: by 2035, the per capita GDP will reach the level of moderately developed countries. The size of the middle-income group will be significantly expanded. Equitable access to basic public services will be ensured. Disparities in urban-rural development, in development between regions, and in living standards will be significantly reduced. And more notable and substantial progress will be achieved in promoting well-rounded human development and achieving common prosperity for everyone. All these show that the CPC has gained a better understanding of common prosperity in theory.


High-quality development is a new concept proposed by the 19th CPC National Congress. China's economy has been transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development, an important conclusion made at the 19th CPC National Congress.


High-quality development originally refers to high-quality economic development, which means that the economy has entered a new stage of development relative to rapid growth while turning to a new development model relative to the extensive growth pattern. But in essence, high-quality development sticks to the people-centered philosophy and advocates the implementation of new development concept, with the innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared features.


From economic growth to economic development, a leap in the development of both theory and practice. Economic growth lays emphasis on the expansion of economic volume while economic development includes not only the growth of volume, but also the improvement of quality, structure and people's livelihood. From rapid economic growth to high-quality economic development, another leap in the development of both theory and practice. Under certain conditions, the economy can achieve high-speed growth for a long or short period of time. However, after reaching a certain level, restricted by various factors such as resources and environment, the high-speed economic growth cannot last. In this way, high-quality development becomes a requirement of the objective law. High-quality development not only underlines the economic development, but also the coordinated development of the economy, politics, culture, society and environment. Moreover, it also highly values people's pursuit of a better life and quality improvement. After decades of continuous economic growth at a rate of about 10%, we stress in theory that high-quality development is the theme of economic and social development in the process of building a modern socialist country during the period of 14th Five-Year Plan and beyond. At the same time, in practice, we shift the economic and social development onto the track of high-quality development. These reflect the requirement of the objective law while representing a new breakthrough we have made in theory.


What is the relationship between high-quality development and common prosperity? How to properly handle their relationship? On one hand, common prosperity is the fundamental purpose of high-quality development, and high-quality development should take common prosperity as its main goal which cannot be weakened or deviated from; on the other hand, high-quality development is an important way to achieve common prosperity. It is the basis and key to solve all problems related to the gradual realization of common prosperity. Common prosperity cannot be realized without high-quality development. In fact, the basic requirement of high-quality development includes common prosperity. Development that is not conducive to common prosperity cannot be considered high-quality development. In such a sense, high-quality development and common prosperity are unified, particularly in guiding and implementing the new development concept, in building China into a modern socialist country in all aspects, and in achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. We are advancing towards the second centenary goal. In our efforts to seek happiness for the people and continuously consolidate the foundation of Party's governance over the long term, we should focus on driving common prosperity for all. Given this, it is necessary for us to adapt to the changes in the main contradiction of our society. It is also necessary for us to better meet the ever-growing demands of the people for a better life.



Promoting Common Prosperity amid High-quality Development


High-quality development is the basis and key to solving all problems. Without high-quality development, it is impossible to achieve common prosperity. This requires adhering to the people-centered philosophy, implementing the new development concept, and focusing on promoting common prosperity in the pursuit of high-quality development.


First, promoting high-quality development through innovation and working harder to solve the problems related to insufficient development. To innovation, we should strengthen our technological, institutional, theoretical and cultural explorations. Science and technology are a primary productive force. We should seize the opportunity of the emerging fourth scientific and technological revolution and make particular efforts to beef up sci-tech innovation and its application in the social and economic development so as to propel the transformation of the development mode, facilitate the changes in the quality, efficiency and the driving force of economic development, enhance the vitality of enterprises and boost productivity.  


Second, promoting high-quality development through structural adjustment and optimization and doing more to address the problems of imbalanced development. Actions are needed to adjust regional structure, carry out regional coordinated development strategy, solve issues related to unbalanced regional development and narrow the gap between regions; adjust industrial structure, address uneven development of industries and optimize industrial structure; adjust urban-rural structure, implement rural vitalization strategy, synchronize the development of four modernizations in both urban and rural areas, and reduce disparities between urban and rural areas; and deepen the supply-side structural reform and demand-side management and solve the problems resulting from the imbalanced supply-demand structure.


Third, promoting the harmony between man and nature in the pursuit of green development. Measures should be adopted to strengthen environmental protection, construct ecological civilization, facilitate green transformation of social and economic development across the board and build the modernization featuring a harmony between man and nature; and efforts are needed to speed up the pace of green and low-carbon development, continue to improve the environmental quality, enhance the quality and stability of the ecosystem, and comprehensively improve the efficiency of resource utilization to achieve the high-quality development amid the green development.


Fourth, promoting high-quality development through high-level opening-up. We should open up more sectors of the economy in a more thorough fashion. Relying on the advantages of domestic large market, we should strive to create a new development paradigm with the domestic market as the mainstay and domestic and overseas markets reinforcing each other, develop a new system of higher-standard open economy, expedite the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and boost international cooperation for mutual benefit and win-win result; and we should enhance the level of opening up in an all-round way, promote the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment, push forward the innovative development of trade, press ahead with the high-quality development of Belt and Road, actively participate in the reform of global economic governance system and achieve high-quality development by opening wider to the outside world.  


Fifth, adhering to the people-centered philosophy and vigorously promoting development for all. We should uphold the principle of development for the people and make the development fruits shared by all people instead of a few or a part of them; we should uphold the principle of development for all in all aspects, help all people gain access to the achievements that the country has got in various fields including economy, politics, culture, society and ecology, and fully protect people's legitimate interests and rights in all aspects; we should uphold the principle of development both by the people and for the people. In other words, everyone should participate in the construction and everyone can share the fruits. Shared development is meant to be a gradual development process from low to high and from uneven to balanced. Actually, common prosperity is also a continuous process in which efforts should be made gradually and positively in different stages because nothing can be achieved overnight.     



Promoting High-quality Development for Common Prosperity


To promote high-quality for common prosperity, we should work hard to deepen the reform in an all-round manner, straighten out relations in all aspects, and mobilize the enthusiasm and creativity of all people in society. In this way, we can achieve high-quality development in the pursuit of common prosperity. The overall goal is to further unleash and develop productive forces, make the cake bigger and lay a solid wealth foundation for common prosperity; meanwhile, continuously improve the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, divide the cake well, and provide an institutional guarantee for common prosperity.   


First, furthering ownership reforms. Based on the primary stage of socialism, we should adhere to the basic economic system in which public ownership plays a leading role and all forms of ownership grow side by side, that is, we should work unswervingly to both consolidate and develop the public sector of the economy and encourage, support and guide the development of the non-public sector. Policies should be put in place to protect property rights and intellectual property rights, and spur the standardized and sound development of all types of capital; measures are needed to improve the mechanism in which the remuneration of production factors, including labor, capital, land, knowledge, technology, management and data, should be determined by their contribution, expand channels for investment and increase people's property income.    


Second, deepening reform of the income distribution system. We should adhere to the income distribution system under which distribution according to work is the mainstay while multiple forms of distribution exist alongside it; more efforts are needed to protect the income from labor and increase the proportion of labor compensation in the primary distribution. When we allow some people to get rich first, it should be emphasized that those who become rich first should lead and assist those who are not yet rich. Big thumbs up should be given to those who get rich through innovation and industriousness.


Third, further restructuring the economic system. Strengthened efforts should be made to improve the socialist market economy system, modern market system, and the open economic system. Measures should be adopted to properly handle the relationship between efficiency and equity, and give full play to the decisive role of the market in resource allocation and its incentive role in efficiency improvement.


Fourth, comprehensively deepening the supply-side structural reform. Actions are needed to improve the balance, coordination and inclusive of development, enhance the balance of regional development and coordination of industrial development, and shore up the development of small and medium-sized companies. Special efforts should be made to consolidate and expand the fruits of the fight against poverty, push forward the rural revitalization strategy in an all-round manner, increase farmers' income by all means, shore up the construction of rural infrastructure and public service system, improve the rural living environment, expedite prosperity for all farmers, and close the income gap between urban and rural residents.


Fifth, Furthering the reform of macro fields. It is advisable to better play the role of government, ramp up the regulation of macro policies in a scientific manner, improve relevant systems and policies and rationally adjust the distribution relationship between rural and urban areas, between different regions, and between various groups. Actions should be taken to set up the basic institutional arrangements to coordinate and support primary distribution, secondary distribution and tertiary distribution, and encourage high-income groups and enterprises to give back more to the society. Continuous efforts should be made to safeguard and improve people's livelihood in the pursuit of development. Harder work is needed to intensify the adjustment and precision in taxation, social security, transfer payments, etc., increase the income of low-income groups, push more low-income earners into the middle-income bracket and expand the size of middle-income groups as a proportion of the population. Measures should be put in place to straighten out the order of income distribution, resolutely prohibit and suppress illegal incomes, protect legal incomes in accordance with the law, and reasonably regulate excessively high incomes to promote social equality and justice, the all-round development of humans


Sixth, establishing a scientific public policy system, facilitating the equalization of basic public services and forming a reasonable distribution pattern for all. In this aspect, we should do our best and act within our competence. The focus should be put on strengthening the construction of people's livelihood guarantees that are fundamental and universal, creating more inclusive and equitable conditions for people to improve their education level and development capability, bring about more opportunities for more people to get rich in an effort to form a development environment in which everyone can participate. More should be done to improve the elderly care and medical security system, the basic minimum guarantee assistance system and the housing supply and support system. We must persist in safeguarding and improving people's livelihood in the course of development, make overall arrangements for employment, income distribution, education, social security, housing, elderly care, and childcare. More attention should be given to rural areas, grassroots and underdeveloped regions, as well as people in need, so as to promote social equality and justice and let more fruits of development benefit all people in a fairer way.  


Seventh, persisting in comprehensively deepening the reform in various fields including economy, politics, culture and ecology. Coordinated efforts should be made to advance the overall layout of the five-sphere integrated plan and the four-pronged comprehensive strategy, uphold and improve the socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernize the country's system and capacity for governance. We should strive to promote people's spiritual life and common prosperity, intensify the guidance of socialist core values and continuously meet the diverse, multi-level and multi-faceted spiritual and cultural needs of the people.


Source: Economic Daily, September 6, 2021, p.1