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60 Years on, ACFIC Stands Strong

No. 93, Beiheyan Street, a small grayish 4-story building on a tree-shaded corner in downtown Beijing had sheltered the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce since its establishment in October 1953.  

Today, the ACFIC has flourished into the headquarters of 3,373 county-level or above federations, and over 47,000 chambers of commerce, giving umbrella to 3.4 million members.

The ACFIC has blazed a unique path in the development of federations of industry and commerce with Chinese characteristics, by consistently adhering to the Chinese Communist Party line of focusing on economic construction and serving the stability of the country, and rallying the personages of non-public economy to socialist modern construction and reform and opening.

Promote the healthy growth of non-public economy

The development of the Chinese non-public economy is encouraging. In 2012, the profit of enterprises in the non-public sector reached 180,000 million yuan, growing at an average 21.6 percent for five consecutive years. The fix assets investment in the non-public sector accounted for 61.3 percent of the entire fixed assets investment. The non-public economy also contributed to 50 percent of the country's tax revenues, 60 percent of its GDP, and over 80 percent of its jobs.

The non-public economy in the People's Republic of China has followed a V-shaped development course, and the turning point occurred at the 3rd Plenum of the 11th CPC Central Committee in December 1978.

On January 17, 1979, three weeks after the Plenum, Chinese President Deng Xiaoping invited five veterans in the business circle - Hu Juewen, Hu Zi'ang, Rong Yiren, Zhou Shutao, and Gu Zhengyu - for Peking hotpot in the Great Hall of the People.

The hotpot, a highlighted page in the history of the Chinese non-public economy, warmed up the weathered hearts of Chinese business people. Responding to Deng's call of "money should be spent and talent should be used", they threw away the various "hats" and "burdens" put on them and embraced the big wave of reform and opening bravely.

In the ensuing 30 years, as the CPC's understanding of the socialist market economy continued to deepen, and its policies and measures became increasingly supportive, the non-public economy has grown steadily from a tiny seedling to a deep-rooted tree.

The just-ended 3rd Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee declared: "Both public and non-public ownerships are key components of China's socialist market economy, and the important foundation of the country's social and economy development." Between the lines of the new statement, the personages of the non-public economy read broad development prospects.

The ACFIC has played an inestimable role in the course of development of the non-public economy.

After the founding of New China on October 1, 1949, the ACFIC organized private entrepreneurs to study the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Common Guidelines, the founding document passed in September 1949, and rolled out a Rectification Movement, or Zhengfeng, among the business circle, in an effort to consolidate the new government. In the meantime, the ACFIC guided and propelled private enterprises to make socialist transformation and participate in socialist revolution and construction, making positive contribution to the recovery and gradual growth of the national economy.

In the wake of Reform and Opening, the federations of industry and commerce re-entered the historical stage, as marked by the convening of the 4th ACFIC National Congress in October 1979.

Some veterans in the business circle issued slogans with distinct characters of that period, such as "Unwaveringly adhere to the Party, and work hard for the Four Modernizations", and "The old cows, knowing the sunset is pending, run fast without the whip". And the federations of industry and commerce of various levels led their members into the socialist construction guided by the Party line of "centering around economic construction and maintaining a stable political situation", thus spurring the growth and strengthening of the non-public economy.

Now, as the explorer and practitioner of socialist market economy, private enterprises have broken the cocoons into butterflies, making contribution to lifting national economic strength and people's livelihood, while accomplishing their own glorious transformation in the trials and tribulations becoming a major pillar of national economy.

Guide the healthy growth of non-public economy personages

The Chinese business circle has always been a patriotic group with ambitions of enriching the people and strengthening the country. This can be seen from their pre-New China efforts to "save the country through industry", "serve the country through industry"; to their later ideas of "follow the words of Chairman Mao, follow the leadership of the Communist Party, and follow the socialist road"; to their actions in line with "unwaveringly adhering to the Party and working hard for the four Modernizations" in the early stage of reform and opening; and till their today's behavioral pursuit of "patriotism, professionalism, integrity, law-biding and contribution".

But the federations encountered a major problem in the 1990s. As the country's veteran industrialists got older, a large batch of private entrepreneurs was born in the big wave of socialist market economy forming a new social stratum. Who will work on them? Who will reflect their opinions and appeals, and safeguard their legitimate rights and interests?

In a "Notice on Approving and Forwarding the 'Query for Instructions on a Number of Issues Concerning the Federations of Industry and Commerce' by the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee" issued by the CPC Central Committee in 1991, the federations of industry and commerce were expressly appointed to do the work with the outstanding personages of the non-public economy. "The federations should work in supportive coordination with the CPC and the government, and rally, help, guide and educate the personages of the non-public economy," says the document.

Stepping into the 21st century, the ACFIC embarks on two tasks: propelling the non-public economy to accelerate growth pattern change; and guiding the personages of the non-public economy to voluntarily practice the concept of "winning both righteousness and profit, but righteousness first", proactively fulfill their social duties, and become the builders of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

On December 24, 2004, 97 personages of the non-public economy were honored by five central ministries including the United Front as "Excellent Constructors of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics", the first accolades given by the country to its personages of the non-public economy and the highest to its excellent constructors.

With the healthy growth of the personages of the non-public economy comes with their full-hearted enthusiasm at taking on more and more social responsibilities.

At the closing ceremony of the 2nd meeting of the Standing Committee of the 7th ACFIC Executive Committee on April 23, 1994, ten private entrepreneurs launched an initiative of poverty reduction titled the Guangcai Program, seeking support from the ACFIC members and the personages of non-public economy. Now, Guangcai has grown into a top-brand charity program.

In 2002, Nan Cunhui, Chairman of CHINT Group Corporation, faced a decision. Should he sell CHINT to a transnational at 10 billion yuan, which was five times its assets value? He rejected the offer without hesitation. CHINT has now become the largest manufacturer and seller of low-voltage electrical products in China

It was said that heroes only reveal themselves in times of crisis. As it is, when major natural disasters struck many private entrepreneurs have made large donations and even worked on the front line; when the global financial crisis attacked, they jointly issued a call of "build confidence, maintain growth, and boost jobs", and sought to tide over the hard times close together.

In 2010, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued the "Suggestions on Strengthening and Improving the Work of the Federations of Industry and Commerce in the New Situations", stating expressly for the first time that the federations have important impact over the country's economic, political, cultural and social lives, and play an irreplaceable role in promoting the healthy development of the non-public economy and its personages. 

This led to a new historical period of innovative development for the federations.

In May 2013, an extensive educational faith campaign took off among the personages of the non-public economy across the country, as various levels of United Front and federations of industry and commerce mobilized a wide range of personages of the non-public economy under the theme of "Entrepreneurs and the China Dream".

On October 30, representatives of the personages of non-public economy converged in the Great Hall of the People to report about their ideals and faiths. Liu Changzhou, Legend Holdings Co., Ltd. Chairman and a vanguard of China's reform and opening, declared "Serve the country through industry is the dream of Legend. Our strength is small, but thousands of rivers make sea; with the collective efforts of Chinese entrepreneurs and the Chinese people, the nation's great rejuvenation dream will come true!"

Play an active and important role in the country's political and social affairs

The ACFIC has been playing a unique and important role in the country's political and social affairs, in its capacity of a people's group and a chamber of commerce under the CPC's leadership and with non-public enterprises and personages of the non-public economy as its main body, as well as a major component of the patriotic united front and a key unit of the People's Political Consultative Conference.

For years, the ACFIC has been making advice and proposals about the hot and difficult issues in the non-public economy from multiple dimensions including policy, system, and the law, guided by the Party line of "centering on economic construction and maintaining a stable political situation".

Such a nature and status of the federations enabled the appeals of the personages of the non-public economy to reach the decision-makers, and vice versa, the voices of the governing party were carried to the people of the non-pubic enterprises in an effective manner. This process gives full play to the federations' role as a bridge linking the personages of the non-public economy, and an aide of government administration and non-public economy service.

In the spring of 1998, a key proposal "On Improving Property Laws and Protecting the Legitimate Rights and Interests of Various Types of Property" made by the ACFIC at the first meeting of the 9th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference roused strong response. In March 2004, "the inviolability of the legitimate private property of a citizen" was inscribed into the Chinese Constitution.

The ACFIC proposal, the first one on including the inviolability of private property in the Constitution, has since been hailed as a trail-blazer in the history of the People's Republic. Again, the just-ended 3rd Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee expressly declared the inviolability of the property rights of the public economy, as well as the inviolability of the property rights of the non-public economy.

The "glass doors”, “swing doors" and "financing difficulties", the high-frequency words in the ACFIC proposals to the country's two political sessions in recent years mirrored the roadblocks in the development of non-pubic enterprises.

In fact, every one of the policies and measures the government installed for the development of the non-public economy, including the so-called "36 Articles on Non-public Economy", "36 Articles on Private Investment" and the advice on supporting the healthy growth of micro and small enterprises, has something to do with the work of the federations of industry and commerce.

Today as the Chinese economy entered a period of gear-shift, structural readjustment pains, and accelerated growth pattern change and structural upgrading, the non-public economy is running into a series of troubles, including weak market appetite, rising production elements costs, expensive and difficult financing, and inadequate policies. Personages of the non-public economy yearn for reform and development.

Apart from its trade and economic promotion activities, and financing, technological and rights protection services, the ACFIC has also carried out intensive research and via various platforms of the political consultation proactively expressed the appeals and policy proposals of the personages of the non-public economy.

These insightful proposals and opinions provided plentiful reference for the Party's and the government's understanding of and decision-making on the development of the non-public economy, and eventually transformed into a strong impetus behind the development of the non-public economy.

After 60 years of trials and tribulations, glories and splendors, the ACFIC is back on a new historic point. The tradition-honoring ACFIC is set to rally the great force of the industries to serve the country and realize the China Dream of great rejuvenation. In this mission, it is not to fail. 

(Note: This is a translation of a Chinese article in the People's Daily. The ACFIC has moved into its new office building at No.70, West Deshengmen Street, Xicheng District, by end of September 2011.)

Date:2013-11-29 18:51:27