As the Solomon Islands and China stand side by side to combat COVID-19, people in China are also in heated discussions on how to further develop its country and implement decisions made by an important meeting held less than two months ago. That meeting is of historic significance, not only to China but also to the world.
The 5th Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was successfully held in Beijing from October 26th to 29th, 2020. The meeting reviewed China’s achievements in the past five years and adopted the Proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035. In spite of a complex and volatile international situation and the ravages of COVID-19, this meeting has drawn a grand blueprint for China’s future development, which will bring more opportunities to countries around the world including Solomon Islands. Following are three main parts of the important proposals of the meeting.
Firstly, China enters into a new stage of development. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2015-2020), the Chinese people have enjoyed a much stronger sense of contentment, happiness, and security. More than 850 million Chinese have been lifted out of poverty in the past decades and the year of 2020 will see the extreme poverty that has plagued the Chinese people for thousands of years be solved once and for all. That is an unprecedented accomplishment in human history. China will embark on a new journey to build a modern socialist country starting from the year 2021. According to OECD, China is so far the only major economy that has recovered from COVID-19 pandemic. China’s economic growth will contribute 30% to the increase of global economy. It is estimated that by the year 2025, China’s per capita GDP will reach the current standard for high-income countries (about USD12, 500), and by the year of 2035, will reach the level of moderately developed countries (about USD20,000).
Secondly, China will pursue a new concept of development. China will continue to pursue the new concept of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, to promote high-quality development, and meet the people’s increasing aspirations for a better life. In September 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China would aim to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060. Recently, President Xi announced a further commitment that by 2030 China will have lowered its carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by over 65 percent from the 2005 level. Under the new development concept, China will make more contributions to tackle the global climate challenge.
Thirdly, China will build a new pattern of development. In order to address the turbulence of the international situation, China will speed up a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay while domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. China will further develop its super-large domestic market and offer a wide range of opportunities to countries around the world. China, by strengthening its cooperation and interactions with the world, will vigorously promote an all-directional, multi-tiered and wide-range opening-up pattern and take part in international economic cooperation at a greater width and depth. According to the latest report on China-US trade, American imports from China are surging as the year 2020 draws to a close, and has increased 46 percent to USD52 billion until November.
The year 2020 also witnessed a prosperous relationship between China and Solomon Islands. Both countries have advanced fruitful cooperation in the fight against COVID-19 and in areas of infrastructure, trade, education, and sub-national cooperation. Although the pandemic has hit the Pacific Islands Region in every possible way, there is always positive news coming out from the China-SI relationship. A few weeks ago, Hon. Harry Kuma, Minister for Finance and Treasury made comments on China-SI cooperation. He was quoted as saying, “growth in China is projected to rise to 8.2 percent in 2021, this is a strong and positive sign for our country given China is our biggest trading partner.” That is indeed an encouraging message.
China will continue to be a genuine partner and close friend of Solomon Islands. As the largest developing country, China resolutely upholds the international order based upon international law, firmly advocates equality and mutual respect, and always opposes hegemonism and bullyism. The development of China will for sure promote peace and prosperity in the Pacific Islands Region and create a favorable environment for China and Solomon Islands to cooperate in vast areas. China does not seek any geopolitical advantage nor advance any political agenda in the Pacific region.
China will provide more development opportunities for Solomon Islands. China is the second-largest economy in the world with a huge market of 1.4 billion population and 400 million middle-income group ranking the largest in the world. China and Solomon Islands have recently exchanged letters on Duty-Free Treatment for products originating from Solomon Islands that cover 97 percent of the tariff range. Although that still needs some domestic procedures to follow, the gate to the vast Chinese market is opening gradually and steadily to Solomon Islands, and I am confident that will further benefit our two peoples.
As a Chinese saying goes, “a single thread can’t make a cord nor a single tree a forest”. Unity and cooperation are always the most valuable assets in the face of the pandemic. With Solomon Islands as one of its most important regional development partners, China would like to share with Solomon Islands not only the joy of Christmas and a new year of 2021, but also development opportunities, and work together on the plan to advance our bilateral cooperation.
by H.E. Ambassador Li Ming