The Communist Party of China (CPC) first put forward the concept of the "important period of strategic opportunities" in the 16th CPC National Congress in 2002. This period covers the first 20 years of the 21st century. In the past 12 years, many changes have taken place in the world. Whether the important period of strategic opportunities still exists is a big question that must be asked before development planning is implemented.
China has been rapidly rising in the past 12 years. Along with the country's rise come two kinds of "theories" in the international community: One is the "China threat theory" and the other is the "China collapse theory."
China is often embroiled in disputes with big economies like the United States over trade and the currency exchange rate, and with neighboring countries over border issues. At the same time, China's internal social and economic development has begun to see a widening gap between the rich and poor, an outdated social structure, as well as mass conflicts. As a result, some people think that China's period of strategic opportunities has come to an end ahead of schedule.
China has already moved from the margins to the center of the world stage, with its international status rising to an unprecedented high. Particularly, the Chinese economy is contributing more and more and exerting a growing influence on the world economy. There exist conflicts and frictions between China and big powers like the United States, but the mutually beneficial pattern has already taken shape. China's cooperation with other developing countries is also extensive. The common interests between China and its neighboring countries outweigh their conflicts. Major events like the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the celebration for the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China in 2009, the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, as well as China's effective responses to the massive earthquake in Wenchuan of Sichuan Province, the earthquake in Yushu of Qinghai Province and the mudslide in Zhouqu of Gansu Province from 2008 to 2010, have greatly burnished China's image and encouraged the Chinese people.
All these prove that despite all the newly emerged conflicts and problems, China's rapid development is still blessed with strategic opportunities.
In light of the changes happening within China and in the world, the CPC Central Committee has made two judgments following comprehensive, objective and calm analyses: First, China's development is still in the important period of strategic opportunities; thus, there is still extensive space for China's further development. Second, China is faced with a variety of foreseeable and unforeseeable risks and challenges. Based on the two judgments, the CPC proposed to strengthen the sense of opportunity and the sense of crisis. We have unified our minds based on the "two judgments" and "two senses." Then we'll be able to remain confident in the face of complex and variable situations.
Given the present economic and social development in China as well as the international environment, we must keep a clear mind. We face huge challenges and tests. In terms of the international situation, the global economy is recovering very slowly while the financial crisis is still ongoing. In some countries, the sovereign debt crisis is unlikely to find relief in the short run. Meanwhile, major developed economies are plagued by high unemployment rates, lacking the driving force for economic growth, while emerging economies are under the double pressure of inflation and a slower economic growth pace. The exchange rates of major currencies are sharply fluctuating and commodity prices are on a roller coaster ride. Protectionism in international trade and investment is mounting.
As for the domestic situation, the task to solve systemic and structural conflicts for more balanced, coordinated and sustainable development is becoming increasingly urgent and difficult. New problems keep cropping up in the country's economic development. For instance, China's economic growth is under the pressure of slowing down. Its consumer prices remain high. The government's macro-control over the real estate market is at a critical stage. It is difficult for agriculture to realize stable development and for farmers to keep increasing their incomes. Employment is under structural pressure. Some businesses, particularly small businesses, are facing problems in operation. The problem of excess capacity in some industries is becoming more striking. The total consumption of energy is rising too fast. Some long-term conflicts are getting intertwined with short-term issues, while internal and external problems are getting mixed up. Thus, China's macro-control has to be conducted in a more complex context.
We need to realize that China is blessed with many favorable conditions for its stable and rapid economic growth over a relatively long period of time. In the second decade of the 21st century, China is still in the important period. Why?