China has made it clear that it strives for more visible and substantive progress in the well-rounded development of individuals and common prosperity of the entire population. The Resolution of the CPC (Communist Party of China) Central Committee on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century adopted last November at the sixth plenary session of its 19th Central Committee reiterates that China will promote common prosperity for all people. The phrase common prosperity has gained prominence as China is determined to bring better lives to more people.
What does common prosperity mean? What significance does it have for Africa?
Generations of the CPC’s top leaders attached great importance to common prosperity. It was first mentioned in the 1950s by Chairman Mao Zedong, and repeated in the 1980s by Deng Xiaoping, chief architect of China’s reform and opening-up policy. Since 2013, President Xi Jinping has expressed a heightened commitment to delivering common prosperity, emphasizing it is not just an economic objective but core to the CPC’s governing foundation.
After winning the anti-poverty fight and completing the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, China now has favorable conditions for promoting common prosperity. More tangible progress toward common prosperity has been listed as one of China’s key long-term targets through 2035 when the country is expected to achieve basic modernization.
Common prosperity does not mean building an egalitarian or a welfare state. It is by no means robbing the rich to help the poor as misinterpreted by some Western observers. According to President Xi Jinping’s speech delivered at the 2022 World Economic Forum Virtual Session, “the common prosperity we desire is not egalitarianism. To use an analogy, we will first make the pie bigger, and then divide it properly through reasonable institutional arrangements. As a rising tide lifts all boats, everyone will get a fair share from development, and development gains will benefit all our people in a more substantial and equitable way.”
Over the past few years, the Chinese government has pursued the common prosperity agenda with a series of reforms. Important gateways to common prosperity include the adjustment of overly high incomes through channels such as taxes, more help for low-income groups through the provision of stronger public benefits and the expansion of the middle-income group.
China has also intensified efforts to crack down on monopolies, curbed the disorderly expansion of capital, reined in the red-hot housing market, and stepped up supervision of the entertainment and education sectors. All such moves aim to promote the healthier and more sustainable development of the industries. Meanwhile, China has adopted measures to reduce development gaps between wealthier and poorer areas, as well as between urban and rural regions, through economic upgrading and more investment in local businesses.
Echoing the government’s call for common prosperity, big enterprises and business leaders in China have taken the initiative to share their profits for the common good by making donations and providing social supports to narrow income disparities.
For common prosperity, China aims to increase the size of middle-income groups and create an olive-shaped income pattern. China’s middle-income group has increased from over 100 million in 2010 to more than 400 million in 2019, accounting for about 30 percent of the total population. Per capita disposable income rose from 19,109 yuan (about 3,004 U.S. dollars) in 2010 to 32,000 yuan in 2020, surging 67.46 percent during the decade. With the advancement of common prosperity, the number of middle-income earners is expected to grow, creating enormous demand for high-quality products and services and thus presenting business opportunities for companies from the rest of the world, including Africa.
China, in its cooperation with Africa, has always honored its commitment and worked in a practical and efficient manner. China is the largest developing country, and Africa is the continent with the largest number of developing countries. The mutual assistance between the two sides when they are pursuing economic development and national rejuvenation will help enhance the common welfare of the 2.7 billion people in both China and Africa. Concrete actions have been put in place to implement the outcomes of the 8th Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which are deepening and substantiating the building of a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era.
China has always been following the principles of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, and pursuing the greater good and shared interests in its cooperation with Africa. The two sides have built over 10,000 kilometers of railways, nearly 100,000 kilometers of highways, nearly 1,000 bridges and 100 ports, as well as a large number of hospitals and schools. As long as China and Africa keep maintaining their solidarity and cooperation, they will definitely explore a new path for developing countries to achieve modernization and common prosperity.
The spirit of China-Africa friendship and cooperation, which features sincere friendship and equality, win-win for mutual benefit and common development, fairness and justice, and progress with the times and openness and inclusiveness, will be carried on from generation to generation. Joining hands for modernization and the building of a China-Africa community with a shared future in the new era, China and Africa will surely write a glorious chapter in the history of human civilization.
Written by Chu Maoming, China’s Consul General in Lagos