(The following is from the keynote speech delivered by Mr. Meng Xiangfeng, a member of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, at the thematic briefing on the 19th National Congress of the CPC, held in Manila on January 11, 2018.)
CHINA and the Philippines are neighbors facing each other across the sea. Our friendship dates back centuries. Centuries-old ballasts from ancient Chinese merchant ships that are still kept in the Intramuros; the legend of Sulu Kings who visited China in 1471 and never returned, whose descendants are still living in China; and the great Chinese navigator Zheng He’s many visits to the Philippines—these are all beautiful stories of China-Philippines friendship.
Today, we followed the path of the ancient maritime Silk Road and came to the Philippines for the purpose of enhancing your understanding of contemporary China and the Communist Party of China, the CPC, China’s sole governing party. We also hope to deepen friendship and contribute to the good neighborliness and mutually beneficial cooperation between our two countries.
As we all know, President Duterte’s visit to China in 2016 marked a turning point in China-Philippines relations. With the direct care and encouragement from leaders of both countries, our relations have achieved positive turnaround. In the past year, political mutual trust has been deepened; practical cooperation in all fields has been flourishing, bringing tangible benefits to peoples of both countries. Meanwhile, PDP-Laban and the CPC signed an MOU on strengthening party-to-party exchanges and cooperation. Since then, we have seen more and more exchanges at different levels. Many PDP-Laban members have visited China where we have shared governing experience with each other, contributing to the fast development of our party-to-party relations.
I’d like to take this opportunity to give you the latest updates in China and of the CPC. You may have already known that the CPC held its 19th National Congress last October in Beijing. The Congress is a major political event of China. It provides an optimal window through which the world can see more of China, and know more about the CPC’s achievements and future directions.
The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is a meeting of great importance taking place during the decisive stage in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and at the critical moment as socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. The theme of the Congress is: Remain true to your original aspiration and keep our mission firmly in mind, hold high the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, and work tirelessly to realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation. The Congress had three major agenda items. First is the report by General Secretary Xi Jinping. This overarching report put forward a system of thoughts and guidelines that are comprehensive, strategic and forward-looking. Second is the amendment to the Party Constitution. This is what we do at every national congress where we add new theories into the party constitution based on new historical experience and missions. Third is the election of a new central leadership.
The new thought
First, the new thought, i.e., Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. The Congress unanimously agreed to incorporate Xi Jinping Thought into the party constitution as a guide to action for the party. Xi Jinping Thought specifies fundamental issues like the overarching objectives, tasks, plan and direction for upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. It builds on and further enriches Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development. It represents the latest achievement in adapting Marxism to Chinese context and encapsulates the practical experience and collective wisdom of our Party and the people. It is an important component of the system of theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics and a guide to action for all our members and all the Chinese people as we strive to achieve national rejuvenation. The Thought will be adhered to and steadily developed on a long-term basis.
Second, new achievements. The congress summarized the extraordinary achievements since the 18th National Congress. Over the past five years, profound changes have taken place both internationally and domestically. We have been confronted with sluggish global economic recovery, frequent outbreaks of regional conflicts and disturbances, and intensifying global issues. China has entered a new normal in economic development. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with comrade Xi Jinping as the core, we have upheld the underlying principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability, risen to challenges, pioneered and pushed ahead, and made historic achievements in reform, opening up and socialist modernization.
The economy has maintained a medium-high growth rate, making China a leader among the major economies. Gross domestic product (GDP) has risen from 54 trillion to 80 trillion yuan (equivalent to about $12 trillion), which enables China to maintain its position as the world’s second largest economy. Launching over 1,500 reform measures, we have deepened reform in every field. Significant progress has been made in developing democracy and the rule of law, theories and culture, people’s livelihood and ecological conservation. Achievements in the anticorruption campaign and major country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics have captured world attention. We can safely say that the achievements made over the past five years have been comprehensive and pioneering.
A new era
Third, a new era. The Congress announced that, with decades of hard work, socialism with Chinese characteristics has crossed the threshold into a new era. This is a new historic juncture in China’s development. This judgment is made based on the shifting of the principal contradiction facing Chinese society. In the past, the principal contradiction was one between backward social production and people’s ever-growing material and cultural needs. But what we are facing now is the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.
(To be continued)
Mr. Meng Xiangfeng is a member of the CPC Central Committee, executive deputy secretary of the working committee for organs directly under the CPC Central Committee, and deputy chief of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee.