70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC

A massive military parade in Beijing marked the 70th anniversary of the founding of People’s Republic of China. As well, a grand display of achievements was at the Beijing Exhibition Center to mark milestones in China’s modern history.
The 15,500-square-meter exhibition space is shaped like a time tunnel, chronicling historic events and symbolic people and objects from 1949 to 2019. It showcases historical events as well as advancements in modern technology to reflect China’s rise as its economy and people’s well-being improve, as well as the country’s contributions to world development.
The five main sections are: The preamble, “Standing in the East” (1949-1978), “Reform and Opening-up” (1978-2012), “Moving Towards Revival” (2012-2019), and “The Future.”
Among the “firsts” in New China on display is an oil painting recording China’s founding ceremony in 1949.
As well, the exhibits include Jie Fang, the first generation of China’s domestically-made CA10 auto truck in 1956, a picture of when China regained her seat in the United Nations in 1971, scenes from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, models simulating China’s lunar rover and the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), and a model of the world’s longest cross-sea bridge, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. The exhibit will run until December.
Rags to riches
If there is any country that fits the old clichés describing a life that moved from unspeakable hardships to immense wealth and stature, China is it. Indeed, China has come a long way since its days as the “Weak man of Asia,” a country reeling from devastating effects of civil war and bullying by foreign powers beginning in the late 19th century until the mid-20th century.
In the last 70 years, the government worked to move the country away from being an agrarian society with 542 million people. It modernized its economy not only to feed a burgeoning population – 1.4 billion by the end of 2018 – but to take its place among nations on its own terms.
The gains had been spectacular. While the agricultural sector expanded at a healthy pace, this was outstripped by robust growth in the manufacturing and services sector.
Agriculture now accounts for only 7.2 percent of the RMB90 trillion (P655.9 trillion) gross domestic product, down from 30 percent before 1980. In 1978, GDP was RMB367.87 billion (P2.7 trillion).
Meanwhile, the manufacturing industry accounts for 40.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), while the service sector makes up the biggest share of GDP at 52.2 percent.
According to the World Bank, by 2010, China’s manufacturing with value added had become the largest in the world and accounted for 27 percent of the global total in 2017.
Private enterprise flourished as capital investments skyrocketed, making significant contributions to the country’s rapid economic rise. Investments in manpower, knowledge and skills, healthcare, technology, infrastructure, and many other vital areas of national development paid off.
There was almost no private enterprise in 1978. Economic reforms changed that. By the end of 2018, private companies accounted for more than half the national tax revenue, making up more than 60 percent of GDP and investments, and generating more than 80 percent of urban jobs.
Its financial services also grew exponentially.
As the world’s second largest economy today, China is the largest trader of goods and foreign exchange reserves, and second largest trader of service, user of foreign capital and outbound investor.
China also contributes to global well-being, from producing affordable consumer goods to poverty abatement. As the world’s second most populous country, expansion in its economy has a ripple effect on the rest of the world. China’s growth accounts for 30 percent of global growth and is highest in the world.
Her share in the financial system has increased substantially in the last seven decades according to Minister of Finance, Liu Kun. China’s fiscal revenue grew nearly 3,000 times to about RMB18.34 trillion in 2018 from RMB6.2 billion in 1950, with an average annual growth of 12.5 percent.
In 2018, GDP was RMB90.03 trillion (P656 trillion), up from RMB67.91 billion (P494.9 billion) in 1952, a 174-fold increase.
Per capita GDP rose to RMB64,600 (P470,738) from RMB119 (P867), a 7,000 percent increase.
Per capita disposable income in 2018 is 59.2 times that in 1949, according to official statistics.
With the rise in prosperity is the attendant increase in financial services. According to People’s Bank of China governor Yi Gang, China has more than 4,500 banking sector financial institutions, over 130 securities companies, and 230 insurance companies.
Total assets reach RMB300 trillion (P2.186 quadrillion), the world’s largest, to which the banking sector contributed RMB268 trillion (P1.953 quadrillion). China’s foreign exchange reserve has reached US$3.1 trillion (P160.9 trillion), ranking first in the world for many consecutive years.
In infrastructure, government figures show RMB135.3 billion (P964 billion) in 2019 alone has been spent on various projects and initiatives across the country, with more than 200,000 kilometers of roads built or renovated in 2018 and 94 percent of poor villages connected to the Internet.
By the end of 2018, China’s operating mileages of high-speed rail reached 30,000 kilometers, ranking first in the world; while railway mileage reached 132,000 kilometers, ranking second in the world.
These projects helped bring access to employment and goods and services. They connected the country, including remote places that progress previously bypassed because they were hard to reach. Some of them were remarkable works of engineering. But more importantly, they linked the Chinese from its coasts to points inland and internationally.
The Beijing Daxing International Airport, for one, was completed in June. Beijing’s second largest international airport, it has a terminal building of one million square meters, making it reportedly the largest single-structure airport terminal in the world.
In 2018, the world’s longest bridge – at 55 kilometers – was completed to link Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao. It is a bridge-tunnel system that consists of three cable-stayed bridges, an undersea tunnel, and four artificial islands. It is considered the longest sea crossing as well as the longest open-sea fixed link on earth.
Never go hungry again
One of the major achievements is poverty reduction. In a 2015 speech, President Xi Jinping set a goal to lift China’s 1.4 billion people out of poverty by 2020. This goal was emphasized several times in Xi Jinping’s 70th anniversary speeches.
In 1990, more than 750 million Chinese, over 60 percent of its population, lived in poverty across China, according to the World Bank. Just 29 years since then, the Chinese government says the number has dropped to 16.6 million.
“Lifting 700 million people out of poverty since reform and opening-up really is an impressive feature. This has had impacts globally in terms of economy and in terms of moving not just China, but the world to middle-class status, which is important because it leads to political and economic stability,” said political science professor Jon R. Taylor of the University of Texas.
China defines poverty as earning less than RMB2,800 (P20,407) a year or around RMB7.83 (P57.06) a day – a lower benchmark than the World Bank poverty line of RMB13.53 (P98.62) day, or just under RMB5,000 (P36,438) a year.
Amid efforts to defeat poverty, special attention was given to increasing support for children, women, the disabled and other special groups in impoverished areas. By the end of 2018, for instance, RMB383.8 billion (P2.8 trillion) in guaranteed loans were granted to enable 6.57 million women to start their own businesses.
Aside from its own poverty elimination goals, China also made important contributions to the sustainable development goal of poverty worldwide, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. China worked actively for the international community to identify poverty reduction as a priority in implementing the 2030 sustainable development agenda.
Through China-United Nations Peace and Development Fund and South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, China and its partners have implemented almost 100 poverty reduction projects in many developing countries. Other initiatives included anti-poverty capacity building trainings, forum on poverty reduction and development, livelihood projects in Africa, and enabling Pakistan to generate electricity.
China also plans to increase international exchanges and cooperation in poverty reduction by sharing her experiences with other developing countries, making positive contributions to the global zero-poverty sustainable development goal.
Truth from facts
It has not been an easy road to prosperity the past 70 years. What lies ahead will come with attendant challenges. In the face of uncertainties in the global economy and mounting external pressures, China will intensify efforts to expand effective investment and boost domestic consumption.
Meanwhile, its record of achievements speaks for itself.
“Seek truth from facts (實事求是),” Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s economic reforms, once said. The wealth of data reflects China’s robust economic development over the years. These in turn offer a solid foundation for future growth.