VIDEOS | MAY 2019
Susan Dietz-Henderson: One of the things I think that you should remember when it comes to the reform program in China is that it’s not just about the one five-year-term versus the next five-year term, and then it’s over or it’s completed. The sorts of time frames that the Chinese government has in mind are much longer than this.
We have for example, what they refer to as the two centennial goals which the milestones being 2021 and 2049. And 2021 is actually the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party. 2049 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. So for the Chinese leadership, the Communist Party leadership, they have in mind that by 2021 China will have reached the level of development of a middling economy, something like South Korea perhaps five years ago.
By 2049, they’re hoping that China will have reached the development level in the GDP, per caps of GDP levels of the United States of today. Five or 10 years ago when these goals were first articulated, people thought that they were highly ambitious, but if you think about where China is today, then this seems like a very realistic goal.
In the 19th Party Congress speech, Xi Jinping inserted another goal, another benchmark of 2035. This ties into one of the other programs that China has launched in the last five years. That is China 2025, which is eight sectors that have been highlighted by the Chinese government that are going to be supported and developed so that it helps China reach its goal of being an advanced manufacturing state, a high tech country. A sophisticated leader in advanced technology by the middle of the century. So 2035 is actually the point at which Xi Jinping believes that China will have reached this level of advancement.
Those areas include things like artificial intelligence, biotechnology, the modernization of the military industrial complex. The sort of technologies that will make them an advanced and highly competitive nature by the middle of the century. China is putting a lot of money into that program, into all of those areas being given equal attention. You will see things in terms of advancement of AI and robotics automation, electric vehicles, advance technology manufacturers. All of these are being prioritized by the government now as part of that longer term strategy.
When we think about Xi Jinping and the reforms embarked on five years ago, and how they’re being articulated for the next five years, you have to keep in mind that that is in relation to a much longer time frame and the sorts of accomplishments that they want longer term. Because Xi Jinping is thinking about his legacy. He’s going to be remembered as somebody who took China into the 22nd century. He is very confident that his legacy will be even greater than that of Deng Xiaoping.
Susan Dietz-Henderson is the china affairs director at Capital Group. She has 31 years of diplomatic experience and has been with Capital Group for 11 years. Prior to joining Capital, Susan was the Australian Consul-General in Shanghai, an assistant secretary for the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra, and had other diplomatic postings in China, the United States, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. She holds a diploma in applied economics from the University of Canberra, a bachelor’s degree in arts and Asian studies from Australian National University, and a diploma in applied linguistics and translation from Wycliffe College. Susan is based in Beijing.