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China's Overview of 2023

Presented at the Second Session of the 14th National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China on March 5, 2024 by Premier Li Qiang, the following extract of the report on the work of the government highlights China's 2023 achievements in a complex international environment.

The achievements include overcoming the impact of Covid-19, strides toward high-quality development and enhancing social stability. This section of the report outlines the nation's strategic successes, economic stability, and progress towards becoming a modern socialist country.


Fellow Deputies,

On behalf of the State Council, I will now report to you on the work of the government for your deliberation and also for comments from members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

I. A Review of Our Work in 2023

2023 was the first year for fully implementing the guiding principles from the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It was also this government’s first year to perform its duties in accordance with the law. In the face of an unusually complex international environment and the challenging tasks of advancing reform and development and ensuring stability at home, the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core brought together the Chinese people of all ethnic groups and led them in withstanding external pressures and overcoming internal difficulties with dedicated efforts.

We secured a smooth transition in epidemic response following a major, decisive victory in the fight against Covid-19. The main goals and tasks for economic and social development in 2023 were accomplished, and we made steady progress in pursuing high-quality development, maintained overall social stability, and made solid advances in building a modern socialist country in all respects.

     —Overall economic recovery and growth were boosted.

China’s gross domestic product (GDP) surpassed 126 trillion yuan, an increase of 5.2 percent, ranking China among the fastest-growing major economies in the world. A total of 12.44 million urban jobs were added, and the average surveyed urban unemployment rate stood at 5.2 percent. The consumer price index (CPI) rose by 0.2 percent. A basic equilibrium was maintained in the balance of payments.

     —Significant progress was made in building a modernized industrial system.

Traditional industries saw accelerated transformation and upgrading, strategic emerging industries achieved vigorous growth, and ground work was laid for developing industries of the future. Advanced manufacturing was further integrated with modern services, and a number of world-class innovations were made in major industries. C919, a homemade airliner, went into commercial operation, and a domestically-built large cruise ship was delivered. China accounted for over 60 percent of global electric vehicle output and sales.

     —New breakthroughs were made in scientific and technological innovation.

We made major headway in establishing a system of national laboratories and achieved fruitful results in developing core technologies in key fields. Substantial progress was made in the research and development (R&D) of high-end equipment, such as aircraft engines, gas turbines, and 4th-generation nuclear power units. A stream of innovations emerged in frontier areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum technology. The volume of contracted technology transactions grew by 28.6 percent. These achievements have further enhanced our capacity for innovation-driven development.

     —Reform and opening up were deepened.

The latest round of institutional reform at the central government level was generally completed, and such reform at the local government level proceeded in a well-planned way. We stepped up efforts to build a unified national market, launched an initiative to deepen and upgrade state-owned enterprise (SOE) reform, and adopted policies to spur the growth of the private sector. The layout of pilot free trade zones was further improved, and the global market share of China’s exports remained stable. The mix of utilized foreign investment was improved; the Belt and Road Initiative cooperation gained greater international influence and appeal.

     —The foundations for secure development were further consolidated.

Grain output reached a record of 695 million metric tons. The supply of energy and resources remained stable. China’s important industrial and supply chains became more self-supporting and related risks were better controlled. Steady progress was made in defusing major economic and financial risks. Infrastructure was further modernized.

     —The environment saw steady improvements.

Thanks to further steps to prevent and control pollution, the discharge of major pollutants continued to fall and the quality of surface water and offshore water continued to improve. The shelterbelt program in northeast, north, and northwest China entered a crucial stage. China’s installed renewable energy capacity surpassed its thermal power capacity for the first time in history, and China accounted for over half of newly installed renewable energy capacity worldwide.

     —People’s wellbeing was ensured.

Per capita disposable income of residents increased by 6.1 percent, and the income gap between urban and rural residents continued to narrow. The gains of poverty elimination were consolidated and expanded, with per capita income in rural areas that have been lifted out of poverty growing by 8.4 percent. We increased subsidies for compulsory education, basic old-age insurance, and basic medical insurance and expanded the coverage of assistance and support. Over 66 million taxpayers benefited from an increase in special additional deductions for individual income tax, which cover children nursing expenses, children’s education, and elderly care expenses. We redoubled efforts to renovate old urban residential compounds and develop government-subsidized housing, benefiting over 10 million households.

Looking back at 2023, we can see that as we faced an array of interwoven difficulties and challenges, China’s economy grew in a wave-like fashion amid twists and turns. Indeed, our achievements did not come easily.

Globally, the economic recovery was sluggish. Geopolitical conflicts became more acute, protectionism and unilateralism were on the rise, and the external environment exerted a more adverse impact on China’s development.

Domestically, owing to the impact of a three-year Covid-19 pandemic, many difficulties facing our economic recovery and development had yet to be resolved. While deep-seated, long-standing issues became more pronounced, many new developments and problems emerged. A drop in external demand coincided with a lack of domestic demand, and both cyclical and structural issues existed. Risks and potential dangers in real estate, local government debt, and small and medium financial institutions were acute in some areas. Some places were hit hard by natural disasters, such as floods, typhoons, and earthquakes. Under these circumstances, we faced considerably more dilemmas in making policy decisions and doing our work.

However, thanks to the concerted efforts of the entire nation, we accomplished the year’s development goals and embraced positive changes on many fronts. In particular, we acquired a deeper understanding of the laws governing economic work in the new era and gained valuable experience in overcoming major difficulties. All this demonstrates that under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the Chinese people have the courage, vision, and strength to meet any challenge and overcome any obstacle. There is no doubt that in pursuing development, China will continue to surge ahead, cleave mighty waves, and advance toward a great future.


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