What are New Quality Productive Forces and Why Should China Watchers Take Note of the Concept?

2024-March-9 11:06 By: GMW.cn

What are New Quality Productive Forces and Why Should China Watchers Take Note of the Concept?

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, takes part in a deliberation with his fellow deputies from the delegation of Jiangsu Province at the second session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, March 5, 2024. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

By Light Blade

On the afternoon of March 5, Chinese President Xi Jinping, while attending the deliberation of the Jiangsu delegation during the Second Session of the 14th National People’s Congress, emphasized the need to firmly grasp the primary task of high-quality development, and to develop new quality productive forces according to local conditions. Earlier in the morning, the Government Work Report delivered by Premier Li Qiang also pledged to build a modern industrial system and accelerate the development of new quality productive forces.

“New quality productive forces” has become a buzzword during this year’s “Two Sessions”, so what exactly does it imply?

It’s a comprehensive concept different from traditional productive forces in that it highlights “new”: new technology, new economy, and new industry. The word “quality” pronounces the essence of innovation-driven development, namely, development that is driven by technological, institutional, and management innovation.

From the everyday person’s perspective, this concept prioritizes empowering workers and their tools. It emphasizes human ingenuity and creativity alongside technological advancements. Researcher Wang Guocheng, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, highlights science and technology as the driving force behind progress. He argues that China’s current focus on merging virtual and physical technologies aligns perfectly. Wang emphasizes, “This concept calls for disruptive innovations across various fields – big data, AI, medicine, materials, and ecology, to name a few. Scale or ownership structure no longer matters. As long as an innovation disrupts traditional production methods, creates wealth, and improves living standards, it qualifies as a new quality productive force.”

Then what does the concept mean for China’s socio-economic development going forward?

First, injecting new momentum into high-quality development.

Amidst rising global uncertainty, fierce competitions, as well as economic restructuring and environmental pressures at home, fostering new quality productive forces will invigorate China’s high-quality growth.

Tian Kun, a Taihe Think Tank researcher, identifies four ways new quality productive forces can fuel China’s high-quality development:

1) enhance the quality of growth by shifting from quantity to quality, prioritizing efficient growth over sheer expansion; 2) uplift the industrial structure through sci-tech innovation, upgrading traditional industries with up-and-coming sectors and strengthening the inherent driving force; 3) boost the capability of innovation and enhance the country’s overall strength in science and technology; and 4) promote social harmony and stability through improved living standards, and better public services in education and health.

Huang Baorong, a CPPCC member and Deputy Director-General of Gansu Provincial Department of Industry and Information Technology, emphasizes how new quality productive forces can invigorate both national and local economies by cultivating new business models and expanding the application of new technologies. He aligns with researcher Wang Guocheng, stating that rising social productivity translates to greater well-being, ultimately fulfilling people’s desire for a better life.

Second, pointing a new direction for regional industrial development.

China is now grappling with a complex domestic and international landscape, marked by regional imbalances in various dimensions including economic development, social progress, and infrastructure.

After first proposing the concept during an inspection in Heilongjiang in September 2023, Xi Jinping reiterated the importance of high-quality development during a recent visit to the Jiangsu delegation during the 2024 “Two Sessions”. Qin Rongsheng, a CPPCC member and professor at Beijing National Accounting Institute, recalled that back in 2023, Xi had encouraged Jiangsu to take the lead in high-quality development. His recent remarks called for Jiangsu to maintain its momentum in leading the nation in developing new quality productive forces according to local conditions.

Third, new opportunities for foreign investment and foreign enterprises.

In 2024, as the country advances with new quality productive forces and high-quality development, China will also continue to expand its openness to the outside world, engage in international economic and trade cooperation, and contribute Chinese wisdom to global recovery. This will bring about a series of new challenges and opportunities to foreign investors and enterprises.

Researcher Wang Guocheng highlights the growing recognition of China’s strong industrial and economic base among foreign investors and enterprises. He emphasizes the vast potential of China’s development, stating, “No force can halt China’s progress. Foreign capital and enterprises that embrace and align with this trend early will reap the maximum benefits.”

Echoing Wang’s observations, researcher Tian Kun highlights the future potential of the Chinese market. China’s economic transformation, he argues, will create exciting new opportunities. Furthermore, China’s longstanding commitment to opening up its markets will create an ideal environment for collaboration and technological innovation. “To ensure sustainable growth in both China and the global market,” Tian argues, “foreign investors and enterprises must adapt to the rise of China’s new quality productive forces by actively seizing market opportunities and responding flexibly to emerging challenges.”

Editor: WJH
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