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Ambassador ZHOU Pingjian: China's Ongoing Second Revolution Will Never End

On December 16, 2018, Nigerian leading newspaper LEADERSHIP published the speech addressed by Ambassador of China to Nigeria Dr. ZHOU Pingjian at the seminar "China's 40 Years of Reforms and Opening-up: Significance, Implication and Lessons" held by the Centre for China Studies. The full text goes as follows:

There is a Deng Xiaoping Street in Asokoro, Abuja. Deng Xiaoping, the late Chinese leader, was the chief architect of China's reform and opening-up drive. "Reform is China's second revolution," he insisted.

At his initiative, China embarked on the great journey of reform and opening-up in 1978. From December 18 to 22 that year, the Communist Party of China (CPC) made the historic decision of shifting the focus of the work of the Party and state to economic development and initiating the reform and opening-up drive at its Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee. The endeavor started from rural areas to cities, from pilot programs to nationwide projects, from economic restructuring to the comprehensive deepening of reform.

 "If we did not adhere to socialism, implement the policy of reform and opening to the outside world, develop the economy and raise living standards, we would find ourselves in a blind alley," said Deng Xiaoping during his inspection tour of the south in 1992.

 He went on to stress, "In the short span of the last dozen years, the rapid development of our country has delighted the people and attracted world attention. This suffices to prove the correctness of the line, principles and policies adopted since the Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee. No one could change them, even if he wanted to."

Today, in retrospect, we have a better understanding of Deng Xiaoping's remarks. Without reform and opening-up, China would not be what it is today, nor would it have the prospects for a bright future. The reform and opening-up drive over the past four decades has made great impacts on China.

As President Xi Jinping recently pointed out in his keynote speech at the APEC CEO Summit in Port Moresby on November 17, "Over the past 40 years, the Chinese people, with vision, hard work and perseverance, have forged ahead and taken a historic stride. We have stood up, become prosperous and grown in strength. The Chinese nation is moving forward toward great rejuvenation."

Indeed, the past 40 years have witnessed tremendous advances in China's development and remarkable improvement of Chinese people's livelihood, from shortage to abundance, from poverty to moderate prosperity. 

The Chinese people have turned China into the world's second biggest economy. China's share in the global GDP increased from less than 2% in 1978 to more than 15% in 2017, with an annual growth rate of 9.5% on average, dwarfing the 2.9% growth rate of the world economy during the same period.

China's import and export of goods have grown by 198 times and those of services by over 147 times. China has attracted more than US$2 trillion in FDI. China has become the world's biggest trader of goods, the biggest tourism market and a major trading partner with over 130 countries.

Guided by a people-centered development philosophy, China raised its per capita disposable income by 22.8 times, lifted 740 million people out of poverty. China's poverty head count ratio decreased from 97.5% in 1978 to 3.1% in 2017. China has achieved free compulsory primary and middle-school education nationwide and established the world's biggest social safety net.

China has pursued development with its door open and succeeded in transforming a closed and semi-closed economy into a fully open economy. In this process, China has lived up to its responsibility as a major country. From "bring in" to "going global", from WTO accession to the Belt and Road Initiative, China has grown by embracing the world, and the world has also benefited from China's opening-up. In the years since the global financial crisis, China has contributed over 30% of global growth.

It is fair to say, the propelling force behind the improvement of the Chinese people's lives, the advancement of China as a socialist country, the progress of the CPC, and the fact that China has gained important international status, is no other than China's perseverance in carrying forward the reform and opening-up drive. Reform and opening-up is the most outstanding characteristic of contemporary China, and distinctive feature of CPC.

China has gained some useful experience in reform and opening-up which will continue to be reviewed and applied.

First, reform and opening-up is an in-depth revolution, and we must follow the correct direction and stay on the correct path. Our direction is to continuously promote the self-improvement and development of socialist system, and stride forward with resolve on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Second, wading across the river by feeling for the stones and top-level design are two component factors for China's reform effort. To continue reform and opening-up, we need to strengthen our macroscopic thinking and top-level design, and make sure that reform is systematic, integrated and coordinated. At the same time, we must still encourage bold experiments and breakthroughs.

Third, reform and opening-up is a systematic project, which should be pushed forward in an all-round way with all kinds of reforms well coordinated.

Fourth, stability is a prerequisite for reform and development. We must make sure that reform, development and stability proceed in tandem. Social stability makes it possible for us to carry out reform and development which in turn provide a solid foundation for social stability. We should take into full consideration the momentum of reform, the speed of development, and the capacity of the general public to sustain change. Improvement of the people's well-being should be regarded as an important link in balancing reform, development and stability.

Fifth, reform and opening-up is a cause of the Chinese people. We must respect the people's pioneering spirit and advance this cause under the leadership of the CPC. The more arduous the task of balancing reform, development and stability, the more we need to strengthen and improve the Party's leadership and maintain close ties between the Party and the people.

Four decades of reform and opening-up has given us many valuable inspiration. "The most important one," as President Xi Jinping observed in April at the opening of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2018, "is that for any country or nation to achieve rejuvenation, they must follow the logic of history and the trend of the times in their pursuit of progress and development."

As we look back over the four decades of reform and opening-up, we Chinese are more convinced than ever before that only through reform and opening-up can China develop itself, that only by win-win cooperation can a country achieve long-term development.

Looking to the future, there is no alternative to continuing reform and opening-up if China is to solve all sorts of difficult problems hindering its development, defuse risks and meet challenges in all aspects, give better play to the advantage of socialism with Chinese characteristics, promote the steady and healthy development of the economy and society, and promote win-win cooperation among all countries.

Just as President Xi Jinping made it very clear last month at the APEC CEO Summit, "Going forward, China will take an even more responsible approach, be even more open and inclusive, and strive to achieve even higher quality of growth. By doing so, as it develops itself, China will make greater contributions to the common prosperity of the world."

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