Economy >Concepts and Terminology
A Society of Moderate Prosperity
The "society of moderate prosperity" is a new socialist concept with Chinese characteristics combining scientific socialism and traditional Chinese culture. The term or its Chinese origin "xiao kang", was first mentioned in the Classic of Rites, one of the significant Chinese ancient books and records. In 1979, Comrade Deng Xiaoping proposed that China's modernization drive be implemented to build a society of moderate prosperity. Such a society is one featuring coordinated and sustainable economic, social and cultural development, with improved democracy and rule of law.
Building the well-off society

Mrs Ma is not a classic entrepreneur: she's been appointed manager of the restaurant by TEDA, the state owned investment group that set up the restaurant last year, on premises left vacant by a failed, state-backed department store. Before the restaurant she helped run TEDA's hotel, and its football team. "I've been involved in state-run businesses for the past 20 years," she says. "My philosophy's to be loyal to the Party, because I am a senior manager. I also have to be loyal to the company. In other words, my mottoes are loyalty and obedience." Whatever else this is, it's not free market capitalism. The wealth gap is growing fast in China. According to the World Bank, it's among the most unequal societies on earth. Social unrest is rising too - though it rarely makes the official media outlets. Last year, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences warned: "The growing wealth gap is an important factor leading to social and political instability." So China's economic policy is now being tweaked to make sure that more than just the new elite gets a chance to enjoy what the Communist Party calls the "well-off society". China's rising wealth effect is being generated not just by market reforms but by massive state intervention and cheap money. It's created a kind of social escalator - it moves faster at the top than at the bottom, but once you're on it, for now, the only way is up. The problem is, two thirds of China's population haven't even got a foot on the bottom step. And no one wants to contemplate what might happen if it should ever stop.

New era of expansion in sight

If supply-side structural reform achieves significant results, the Chinese economy is quite likely to touch bottom in the next one or two years, Liu Shijin, deputy secretary-general of the China Development Research Foundation, a public foundation, wrote in an article published in the People's Daily on Monday. There are three prerequisites for an economic rebalancing: Overinvestment must end, the campaign against overcapacity must make significant headway and new sources of growth must be established, according to Liu, who is a former deputy director of the China's State Council Development Research Center, a government think tank. After more than six years of sluggish growth, it appears that the three prerequisites are being satisfied. The demand that's caused high investment levels - infrastructure investment, property investment and exports - is stabilizing. Meanwhile, the campaign against overcapacity is making progress with wholesale prices rebounding. Finally, new sources of growth are emerging with improved quality, efficiency and potential, though these can't entirely offset the weakened performance in traditional growth engines, Liu said. He noted that the economy is very close to bottoming out, and it's at a point where pressure and difficulty and the hope of successful restructuring coexist. However, Liu noted that the economy won't follow a V- or U-shaped trajectory. Instead, the recovery will be L-shaped, entering a plateau of medium and high rates of growth featuring creativity and sustainability. This stabilizing period will last for five to 10 years or even longer, and it will lay a solid foundation for the country's road to transformation into a well-off society by 2020, noted Liu. Liu Xuezhi, an analyst at Bank of Communications, said the arrival of the second phase of an L-shaped recovery is closely related to the progress in economic restructuring, without giving an estimate of when the period will arrive. "The downward pressure mainly stems from the secondary industry, and the slowdown in the economy is a reflection of that. Meanwhile, the proportion of the secondary industry [in the economy] is slowly giving way to the tertiary industry, which is rising in importance," Liu told the Global Times on Monday. "When the tertiary industry accounts for about 60 percent of GDP, China will see its economy finally stabilize." In the first half of the year, the added value of China's tertiary industry accounted for 54.1 percent of GDP, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed in July. In 2015, the figure was 50.5 percent.

Ask also what you can do for the environment

Never have people in China shown so much concern over the environment and its implications to their health as nowadays. As the country becomes a well-off society, more and more people are asking what increasing material prosperity will mean if there is little clean water to drink or clear air to breathe. Their worries seem not so far-fetched, given the rising environmental challenges China faces. According to a 2015 report by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the quality of underground water was relatively poor in 45.4 percent of the 4,895 monitored spots and very poor in 16.1 percent of these spots. The ministry's data in 2014 also suggested about 1.1 percent of the surveyed arable land in the country is severely contaminated with poisonous chemicals such as cadmium and mercury. While for many who live in the north, smog, sadly, is becoming part of daily life. Compounding these problems is the public's lack of general awareness about what role they can play in addressing these problems, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences, which were released on Monday. The survey, which interviewed about 3,100 people in Beijing as well as Central China's Hubei province and Northwest China's Gansu province, tested how much basic knowledge people had of environmental protection and pollution, such as how to dispose of garbage and protect oneself from smog, as well as what steps to take to report incidents of pollution. More than 90 percent of the interviewees failed the test. Such a situation is worrisome. Not only because people's lack of knowledge increases the burden on the health system, but because government efforts to improve the environment may be compromised or even derailed when people lack the necessary awareness. Many garbage incinerator projects in cities, for instance, have been canceled due to strong opposition by residents. After more than three decades of double-digit economic growth at the cost of the environment, the government has come to realize the importance of the environmental protection. Investment in the sector over the past five years has reached 3.4 trillion yuan ($501 billion), or 3.5 percent of the country's GDP, up from 1 percent in 1999. A beautiful China is part of the Chinese dream. But the government alone cannot accomplish this. It is the responsibility of each of us to play our part, by sorting the trash, cutting the use of plastic bags, or even dialing the government hotline to report a polluting enterprise. We have only one planet, and we all share the responsibility to look after it.

Knowledge Graph

1 In 2017 the 19th CPC National Congress will be convened, and the country will make more efforts in building a well-off society in all respects, deepening overall reform, rule of law and strict governance of the Party. 

2 He believes Mao's greatest legacy in today's Nanjie is the socialist path to common prosperity, which conforms to the current government goal of building a well-off society by the end of 2020