3. We made an all-out effort to focus on key areas, address inadequacies, and solve challenging problems, with major progress being made in the three critical battles.
We made substantial progress in targeted poverty alleviation, secured an overall improvement in the quality of the environment, and effectively prevented and controlled financial risks. 1) We made solid progress in poverty alleviation. We worked hard to eliminate poverty through the development of local industries and through boosting employment and consumption. We pooled resources to resolve outstanding issues with regard to ensuring adequate food and clothing, as well as access to compulsory education, basic medical services, and safe housing for poor rural populations in areas of extreme poverty such as the three regions and three prefectures. We helped 7.33 million registered poor households renovate their dilapidated houses, and completed the construction of 35,000 resettlement areas, comprising more than 2.6 million units of housing that can accommodate 9.47 million registered poor people who have been relocated from inhospitable areas, thereby essentially completing the task set in the 13th Five-Year Plan one year ahead of schedule. We continued to increase follow-up industry-led support and employment assistance, and effectively advanced dedicated poverty alleviation efforts. Over the course of the year, China’s rural poor decreased by an additional 11.09 million, with 344 counties having been lifted out of poverty and the poverty headcount ratio having dropped to 0.6%. By the end of 2019, 97% of rural residents living below the current poverty line having lifted themselves out of poverty, and 94% of poor counties having been removed from the poverty list. As a result, regional poverty was largely eradicated.
2) We made strong headway in both environmental protection and pollution prevention and control. We made solid progress in keeping our skies blue, our waters clear, and our land pollution-free. The annual average concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) decreased by 2.4% in the cities at and above prefecture level that fell short of the national standards. The proportion of surface water with a quality rating of Grade III or higher stood at 74.9%. The non-fossil fuel share of the total energy consumption reached 15.3%, with this target set in the 13th Five-Year Plan being met one year ahead of schedule. The central government launched the second round of environmental inspections as scheduled. We put in place the system of river chiefs and lake chiefs. The environmental improvement of county-level water sources was essentially completed and nearly 87% of black, malodorous bodies of water in cities at or above prefecture level were cleaned up. We strictly blocked illegal waste imports, and registered a year-on-year reduction of 40.4% in solid waste imports. We also carried out trials for a No-Waste Cities initiative. We implemented the emissions permit system at a faster pace, and introduced the Catalog of Green Industries (2019). We launched initiatives to control both the total amount and the intensity of energy consumption, and to promote nationwide water conservation and eco-friendly lifestyles. Energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by 2.6%, and water consumption per 10,000 yuan of GDP dropped by 6.1%. We improved the system for protecting natural forests, allowed more marginal farmland to return to forest and grassland, and took coordinated steps to control desertification and prevent the spread of stony deserts. We launched trials of comprehensive ecological compensation. Carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP decreased by 4.1%.
3) We effectively prevented and controlled major risks in the financial sector. We made steady efforts to defuse risks related to the hidden debts of local governments and the debts of enterprises, and succeeded in curbing excessively rapid growth of the macro-leverage ratio. We effectively addressed the disorderly growth of shadow banking, made significant progress in defusing risks in some high-risk financial institutions, particularly in small and medium-sized banks, and addressed the risks related to internet finance and other financial risks that impact a large number of people. The operations of the financial market were stable and orderly, and the foreign exchange market and the RMB exchange rate remained generally stable, while the financial regulatory system was further improved.
4. We pursued the innovation-driven development strategy and enhanced our capacity for scientific and technological innovation. We deepened reform of the management system for science and technology, and intensified support for basic research and application-oriented basic research. China’s spending on R&D amounted to 2.19% of GDP, while the contribution made by advances in science and technology to economic growth hit 59.5%.
1) The pace of independent innovation increased. We saw a constant stream of significant scientific and technological advances throughout the year: The Chang’e-4 lunar probe successfully landed on the far side of the moon; the deployment of the core constellation of the Beidou-3 global navigation system was completed; the launch of commercial 5G operations was brought forward; the Long March-5 Y3 carrier rocket was successfully launched; and China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier Shandong was commissioned. We continued implementing major projects of the Sci-Tech Innovation 2030 Agenda and major national science and technology programs, and started construction on a number of major science and technology infrastructure projects such as the High Energy Photon Source. We made steady progress in pilot reforms of comprehensive innovation, with 169 preliminary trials being completed. Significant headway was made in turning Beijing and Shanghai into innovation centers for science and technology, and the initiative to develop the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area into an international science and technology innovation center got off to a smooth start. We expedited the construction of comprehensive national science centers in Huairou in Beijing, Zhangjiang in Shanghai, and Hefei in Anhui, along with the planning for another such center in the Greater Bay Area.
2) We stepped up our efforts to foster new drivers of growth. We started construction of a national pilot zone to boost the innovation-driven development of the digital economy. We coordinated efforts to advance major IT application projects, beginning with a number of major projects to build an IT-enabled government as required in the 13th Five-Year Plan. We also undertook projects for the development of clusters of strategic emerging industries.
3) We continued to inspire enthusiasm for innovation, business startups, and creativity. We piloted the contract system for research project funding, along with the “green channel” program. We ensured the success of 2019 National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Week. By the end of 2019, more than 225,000 new- and high-tech enterprises and more than 151,000 small and medium-sized sci-tech businesses had been established across the country, with a year-on-year increase of approximately 24% and 15% respectively. China rose to 14th place in the Global Innovation Index 2019, with an average of at least 10,000 new businesses being registered per day in 2019.
5. We thoroughly and effectively implemented major strategies and achieved higher levels of coordination between urban and rural development and the development of different regions. We promoted effective implementation of key strategies regarding rural revitalization and coordinated regional development, improved the quality of new urbanization, and reduced the disparities in development between rural and urban areas and between regions.
1)We stepped up the implementation of the rural revitalization strategy. Work began on the major projects, plans, and actions defined in the Strategic Agenda for Rural Revitalization. Rural areas saw the continuous emergence of new forms of business, including rural tourism and farm-based recreation. We continued to promote reduced yet more efficient use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Efforts to recycle resources from livestock and poultry waste and crop straw were stepped up. With notable improvements in rural roads and water and power supply and the full launch of the campaign to control pollution in agriculture and in rural areas, the improvement of rural living environments was accelerated. Efforts to develop rural culture and improve rural governance were intensified.
2) The quality of new urbanization was steadily increased. We carried out policies and measures for building sound institutions and mechanisms for integrated urban-rural development. Over 10 million people from rural areas were granted urban residency, constituting significant progress toward the goal of granting urban residency to 100 million people without local household registrations. The percentage of permanent urban residents reached 60.60%, while the percentage of registered urban residents reached 44.38%. The ability of principal cities and city clusters to attract people to them gradually increased, and modern metropolitan areas grew in an orderly fashion. Breakthroughs were made in elevating very large towns to cities, while the development of towns with distinct features was further regulated.
3) We accelerated the development of new mechanisms for coordinated regional development. Policy frameworks for supporting the development of the western region, the revitalization of northeast China, the rise of the central region, and the spearhead development of the eastern region were further improved. Steady and substantial progress was made in promoting the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, with construction starting on Xiongan New Area. Positive results were achieved with regard to addressing prominent environmental issues in the Yangtze Economic Belt. The policies for the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area were further refined. The Plan for Integrated Development of the Yangtze River Delta was published, and construction began on a demonstration zone for eco-friendly development in the delta. We began drafting the plan for the ecological conservation and high-quality development of the Yellow River basin. We stepped up work on revitalizing and developing regions with unique features such as old revolutionary base areas, areas with large ethnic minority populations, border areas, and impoverished areas. One-to-one assistance programs were also scaled up. Widespread construction efforts began on demonstration zones for developing the marine economy.