Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered a comprehensive, balanced, and forward-looking work report at the opening of the Fifth Session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC). From a global perspective, China's role in the international community is rising. The nation accounts for a third of global economic growth and plays an increasingly active and constructive role in world affairs. Therefore, it is not surprising that Premier Li gave particular emphasis to the national economy—getting one's house in order strengthens one's hand internationally.
Domestic and foreign affairs are interrelated and the national economy provides a solid foundation for both. Certainly, the tax cuts outlined by Premier Li can improve the business situation and thus increase competitiveness. Value-added taxes are a common international practice. Along with tax cuts, eliminating unnecessary regulation that impedes economic productivity is essential to solid growth. Proper regulation of the private sector is, however, necessary for economic stability and social justice. Economic growth is facilitated through emphasis on the development of society's productive forces. The public sector can be further invigorated with a focus on social responsibility and efficiency.
On the financial side, a fundamental consideration is the development of strong and stable national capital markets. Given the uncertainties in the present international financial system and its outdated architecture, this is a particularly significant consideration. There is also the issue of urbanization, which offers a vast panorama for forward-looking modernization. New frontiers in urban design and planning as well as in infrastructure development have the potential to open wider for innovation.
Premier Li did not forget the agricultural sector and rural development. Nor was the important task of poverty reduction overlooked. Around the world, one of history's key lessons is that there should be balanced economic growth in national planning. Such growth must not only concern manufacturing, but also the agricultural sector and food security—pillars of the real economy. Therefore, developing human capital must be a prime concern.
On national defense, the work plan appears realistic, giving attention to the need for the modernization and development of the military. Another important feature brought up is improving the quality of life for all men and women in military service.
Meanwhile, on the sensitive questions of Hong Kong and Taiwan, a common sense approach was emphasized. Certainly, order and progress are important, but these can be impaired by outside interference in internal Chinese affairs and by separatist forces.
Finally, it was good to see the emphasis on the Belt and Road Initiative as a force to promote not only regional but also global development. China's outward reach and its contemporary global strategy can fundamentally alter the face of Eurasia and provide important linkages to the Americas and Africa.
A more active and globally engaged China is a welcome contribution to the peace and development of the international community. So, best wishes for the success of this work plan are in order. The world is watching.
The author is a former senior staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and an op-ed contributor to Beijing Review
Copyedited by Dominic James Madar
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