Effective leadership of the Party has been the guarantee for China's transformation into an economic powerhouse
Zhou Dengping turns 42 this year. It has been a long time since he last celebrated National Youth Day, which falls on May 4. The event for young people was set up in 1949 with the purpose of honoring China's May Fourth Movement of 1919, which sought national independence, emancipation of the individuals and the rebuilding of society and culture. On May 4 this year, Zhou's company Wribot Technology, which he launched in 2019 with corporate venture capital investment from Lenovo Capital, partnered with Peking University Science Park to create a digital knowledge center detailing the history of the Communist Party of China.
The new knowledge center will provide CPC history education to both PKU students and visitors. The partnership was formulated this year as 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC.
"This will surely be the most remarkable Youth Day in my life," Zhou said.
Zhou has become a startup founder since 2012, and Wribot Technology is one of two companies he has founded to exploit artificial intelligence over the past nine years, a period in which China's GDP has increased from $8.3 trillion to $15.66 trillion.
Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with General Secretary Xi Jinping at the core, the Chinese economy has boomed over the period, displaying strong dynamics and cutting-edge advantages, thanks to the deepening of market reforms and the country's continuing opening-up.
Zhou said that after teaming up with PKU on the CPC history project, he has learned much about the CPC's history and gained a much deeper understanding of how its efforts have provided the fertile ground in which his company is thriving.
"Every businessowner should understand the history of the CPC to more effectively understand all aspects of the CPC's leadership," he said.
Over the 100 years of its existence, the CPC has always seen development as an integral part of its core mission. Xi made clear in 2012 that unleashing and developing the productive forces and fostering a socialist market economy were key tasks for socialism. Even in the 1950s, when the country formulated its first Five-Year Plan (1953-57), the plan focused on industrialization to promote economic growth.
Finding the right balance
With China's economy growing, the country's industrial upgrading is accelerating.
Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show that the services sector accounted for about 52.2 percent of the country's overall economy in 2018 and its proportion is still growing, indicating that the country is on the right track for high-quality growth. Private, innovative businesses in the service sector, such as Wribot Technology, have grown robustly.
Zhang Kai, an associate professor of economics at the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC, which is also known as the National Academy of Governance, said that pursuing development and bringing tangible benefits to businesses and the people have always been priorities for the economic work of the CPC after he reviewed all the central economic work conferences since 1994.
"Even in the 1950s, the centerpiece of the first Five-Year Plan (1953-57) was industrialization," Zhang said. "The direction set in the plan and the solid implementation of the plan enabled the Chinese economy to grow tremendously."
The Central Economic Work Conference in 2014 highlighted that after more than 30 years of high-intensity, large-scale development and expansion, the production in traditional industries had reached a saturation point, and the policy focus should be on new technology, new industries and new business models.
Despite all the difficulties, last year was a year of gain for Wang Shirui, founder and CEO of Medlinker. Originally a provider of an internet hospital platform focused on chronic disease management, the platform evolved to connect patients with doctors because of COVID-19.
With the outbreak of the epidemic, the demand for online medical resources has soared. Noting the demand, Wang transformed Medlinker into a medical consultation platform that operates 24/7, with doctors voluntarily providing free consultations on COVID-19 related syndromes and offering advice on home quarantine, personal protection and sanitation.
By May 2020, the platform had a pool of more than 6,500 respiratory doctors and doctors for infectious diseases, and had provided medical consulting services to more than 440,000 patients.
At a seminar that officials of the National Health Commission participated in with representatives from the World Health Organization and the Asian Development Bank, Mao Qun'an, head of the planning department of the NHC, said that internet medical care providers have unique advantages in detecting patients and thus can help lower the risk of the virus spreading.
Since 2014, when Medlinker was first founded in Chengdu, Sichuan province, the platform has received tremendous support from both local governments and the country's overall development strategy. The company was among the first to receive the license for an internet hospital in 2017.
"We wouldn't have been able to achieve such rapid growth without favorable policies from both central and local governments," said Wang.
China's containing the novel coronavirus and advancing social and economic growth at the same time were great achievements. During this process, market entities of all kinds of ownership displayed tremendous potential and strength in coping with the impact of the pandemic. The sound relationship between the government and the market has been at the heart of these achievements.
"Correctly handling the relationship between the government and the market to strike a balance has always been a key aspect of the CPC's leadership of the economy," Zhang said. "This has been a key factor for China's economic success, as can be seen from China's economic performance despite the difficulties resulting from the pandemic."
Last year, the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee proposed that economic work should combine an effective market and a well-functioning government, which is the most recent definition of relations between the government and the market.
"Ever since the founding of the CPC, the leadership of the Party has always been the most important and essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics," Zhang said. "Ensuring and enhancing the CPC's leadership will be the fundamental condition for China's economy to grow on the right track and ensure that businesses of all kinds are able to fully unleash their potential."
Zhang has been focusing his studies on China's economic landscape and its transformation since 2012. He said that when the first Central Economic Work Conference was held in 1994, enhancing and upgrading the CPC's leadership on the economic front was a key part of the agenda. Since then, "the CPC's ability to govern, particularly in the economic work, has been notably improving", Zhang said.
Illustrating this, Wang, the founder of Medlinker, is excited to see that making all-around efforts to build a Healthy China was included in the freshly-inked 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).
"This means the country is making great efforts to promote higher-quality development," Wang said.
Tian Xuan, an associate dean and a professor of finance at PBC School of Finance, Tsinghua University, said that a clear identification of property rights, a mechanism for free competition and an entrepreneurial spirit are the three key essential factors for a market economy, and government policies have a notable impact on these three factors.
"Correct policymaking by the government and how the policies are implemented is always something that the government under the CPC's leadership has done tremendously well," said Tian. "China has completed the transition from a planned economy to a socialist market economy through a very long journey of experimentation and practice. In this process, the country's institutional advantages and the role of the market in allocating resources have been effectively brought into play."
In 2009, Zhu Ning, a Yale University graduate, left his tenured position as a professor of economics at the University of California and returned to China to participate in the building of Shanghai Advanced Institute of Finance, which positions itself as a global financial education provider that aims to compete with best schools of economics in Europe and the United States.
He brought with him a number of US-trained economists, who all noticed and were excited by the potential of Shanghai to build itself into a global financial center.
Over the last 100 years, what the CPC has accomplished is fully reflected in the rapid growth of Shanghai, which has been transformed into a modern international metropolis. The city's GDP reached 3.87 trillion yuan ($603.22 billion) in 2020, and the regional headquarters of 785 multinational enterprises are located in the city.
Since 2013, Xi has made multiple trips to Shanghai and given instructions outlining the city's development path.
Zhu said that over the past decade, opening-up and the city's innovative attitude have been key features of Shanghai's remarkable growth.
By 2020, there were some 280,000 foreigners working in Shanghai, and the city has been voted China's most attractive city for expats for eight consecutive years. SAIF, the financial school that Zhu and others founded in 2010, now cooperates with more than 40 research institutions overseas, including Stanford University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. More than 70 percent of its faculty held tenure teaching positions overseas before joining SAIF.
Cai Zhibing, an associate professor of regional economy at the National Academy of Governance, said that the CPC's leadership has played a particularly important role in driving Shanghai's growth.
While the city has long stood at the forefront of reform and opening-up, its experiments to promote economic growth, innovation, institutional reform and improved governance have been conducive to the city's own development and offered referential experience for other regions. In particular, strong leadership has been the cornerstone for Shanghai to tackle and overcome the challenges and difficulties encountered when carrying out experimentation and innovative practices.
"The steady and strong leadership provided by the CPC has been an irreplaceable pillar supporting the city as it has tried new experiences and tackled problems emerging from the reform and opening-up process," Cai said. "This support has been the most essential guarantee for Shanghai to realize high-quality growth."
Moreover, Cai said that the leadership's understanding of the role between the government and the market has matured.
"A functional government must aim at building an effective market. And an effective market is also highly dependent on a well-functioning government," he added. "This will add to the economy's resilience in the face of changing dynamics and help it realize more robust growth."
Looking ahead, the communique of the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, held in October last year, put forward the main objectives for economic and social development during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period and the long-range objectives through 2035. These indicate that the Party will continue to promote and guide the deepening of reform and opening-up, and that innovation will be the focus of its drive to modernize the country and ensure that development will meet people's demand for a better life.