Xi Story: A good planner with vision and action

(Xinhua) 15:43, July 09, 2024

BEIJING, July 9 (Xinhua) -- In 1986, the Xiamen Daily newspaper in east China's Fujian Province launched an essay contest, inviting readers to express their expectations about what the coastal city of Xiamen would be like in 2000.

The contest served as a platform to solicit public opinions for formulating the city's economic and social development plan from 1985 to 2000, a far-reaching undertaking led by Xi Jinping, then vice mayor of Xiamen. Later, ideas from more than 10 essays participating in the contest were adopted.

"At that time, Xiamen urgently needed a development plan as a decision-making guide to achieve faster and better development," said Li Xiuji, then deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xiamen Municipal Committee.

It took one and a half years to complete a document of over 200,000 words, which turned out to be the first 15-year economic and social development strategy adopted by a local government in the country.

"Other places only drew up five-year plans at that time, but Xi did a 15-year plan and invited well-known experts to participate in the drafting. His foresightedness impressed us a lot," said Peng Yiwan, a member of the drafting group.

Many ideas and measures in the plan were pioneering and forward-looking in retrospect. For instance, it stressed preventing pollution and maintaining ecological balance while developing the economy, unusual at that time as the country's economy was just beginning to take off.

The plan has injected strong impetus into the sustainable development of Xiamen. From 1985 to 2023, the city's gross domestic product achieved an average annual growth rate of 14.1 percent, surpassing the growth rates at the national and provincial levels. Meanwhile, ecological environment remarkably improved, as the city led the country in water and air quality.

Xi's forethought continued to make a difference as he worked as governor of Fujian Province in the early 2000s. He led the formulation of an overall plan for building Fujian into an eco-friendly province by 2020. To ensure the plan is well-crafted, he demanded local authorities spend a whole year on conducting extensive research.

"In my experience, no governor would work in the same province for as long as 20 years. Xi's planning was for the future of the province and its people, rather than any short-term achievements to make himself look good during his tenure," said Li Zaiming, then chief of Fujian's environmental protection authority.

Whether working at the local or central levels, Xi has always given great weight to planning in advancing the reform and opening up, which he deems as an arduous and complex task that demands thinking in the long run and prudent decision making.

"History has taught us that the development of a place, without long-term planning, often leads to serious mistakes and even permanent regrets," Xi once said.

Xi, now Chinese president, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, carried on the long-term perspectives after becoming the country's top leader.

From national development plans and key reforms to international cooperation initiatives, he has stressed thorough research and meticulous planning in various undertakings, as well as relentless efforts in fulfilling the plans.

In 2020, Xi led the drafting group for proposals for formulating the 14th five-year (2021-2025) plan for national economic and social development and long-range objectives through 2035.

He presided over seven symposiums within three months to seek suggestions from representatives from all walks of life. He made field trips to enterprises and rural households to get firsthand information, sat down with rural migrant workers and couriers to heed their suggestions, and instructed authorities to solicit public opinions online.

Aspiring to lead China toward a more prosperous future, Xi has always kept the blueprint of reform and development in mind. The key to making a blueprint come true, as he points out, lies in successful implementation.

"As long as the blueprint is scientific, practical and in line with the aspirations of the people, we will continue to work on it until turning it into reality," Xi once said.

Emphasizing planning and playing the long game is one of China's institutional advantages. This stands in stark contrast to the Western system, often characterized by frequent changes of governing political parties, difficulties in continuing policies, and challenges in implementing long-term plans, according to Zhang Weiwei, director of the China Institute of Fudan University.

The construction of the Xiong'an New Area is another telling example of Xi's emphasis on planning and steady implementation in advancing reforms. The area aims to relieve Beijing of non-essential functions related to its status as the nation's capital while promoting the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

Xi exhorted authorities to work out a high-level and scrupulous development plan before the construction began. "Construction should begin only after careful planning has been made for every inch of land," Xi said.

Noting that the worth of any plan lies in its implementation, Xi stressed that laws and regulations must be in place to ensure that the new city's development plan is implemented thoroughly.

Now Xiong'an has transitioned from concept to concrete reality, emerging as a cradle of new industries and innovation.

Ahead of the third plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Committee, which will be held in Beijing from July 15 to 18 to primarily study issues concerning further comprehensively deepening reform and advancing Chinese modernization, Xi again highlighted the significance of planning and implementation for reforms.

"Reform hinges not only on planning but also on implementation of measures," Xi said at a symposium attended by representatives from businesses and academia in Jinan, Shandong Province, in May.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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