The following are our main accomplishments over the past five years:
1. Strengthening and improving macro-control, and spurring steady and rapid economic development
We paid close attention to the orientation, focus and strength of macro-control and kept a firm grasp on the initiative in our economic work. In the early stages of the Eleventh Five-Year Plan period, we adopted correct policies and measures to address overheated investment growth, the excessive trade surplus, excess liquidity, and structural and imported inflation; effectively prevented emerging problems from evolving into trends; and prevented problems in any one area from becoming general problems. In the last two years, we responded coolly to the impact of the global financial crisis - a crisis of a severity seldom seen in the last century, made decisions scientifically and resolutely followed a proactive fiscal policy and moderately easy monetary policy.
We steadfastly implemented a multi-point plan, greatly increased government spending and made structural tax reductions, carried out the plan for restructuring and reinvigorating key industries on a large scale, vigorously promoted innovation and increased support for work in science and technology, and substantially increased social security benefits. We steadfastly followed a strategy of expanding domestic demand; adopted policies and measures to encourage consumer spending; and increased urban and rural incomes, particularly for low-income people. As a result, consumer spending grew steadily and its structure constantly improved. We carried out a two-year investment plan to increase spending by 4 trillion yuan, including 1.18 trillion yuan from the central government. Of this amount, 43.7% was invested in low-income housing projects, projects to improve the wellbeing of rural residents, and social programs; 15.3% in innovation, restructuring, energy conservation, emissions reductions and ecological improvement; 23.6% in major infrastructure projects; and 14.8% in post-Wenchuan earthquake recovery and reconstruction.
Government spending guided and drove nongovernmental investment, greatly increased domestic demand and effectively compensated for weak external demand. This helped to reverse the slowdown in economic growth in a relatively short time and make the Chinese economy the first in the world to pick up again. In this way, we not only got over the hard times and ensured and improved the wellbeing of the people, but also laid a firm foundation for long-term development.
2. Striving to do our work related to agriculture, rural areas, and farmers well, and consolidating and strengthening the agricultural foundation
Central government spending on agriculture, rural areas, and farmers totaled nearly 3 trillion yuan and grew at an average annual rate of more than 23%. Agricultural tax and various government charges were totally abolished, thereby ending the history of farmers paying taxes on the crops they grow and easing their annual burden by more than 133.5 billion yuan. We set up a subsidy system for grain growers and a benefit subsidy system for major growing areas, and paid out 122.6 billion yuan in production subsidies to grain growers last year. Minimum purchase prices and temporary purchase and storage policies were put in place for key grain varieties, and the minimum purchase prices for wheat and rice were raised by between 25% and 40%.
We rigorously safeguarded arable land. We worked hard to make advances in agricultural science and technology. New record highs were set for grain production, which reached 5.4641 trillion tons last year, the seventh consecutive yearly increase. The per capita net income of farmers continued to grow rapidly and reached 5,919 yuan. We made steady progress with comprehensive reforms in the countryside and fully implemented the reform of tenure in collective forests and the system for managing state-owned farms. We accelerated agricultural and rural infrastructure development. We finished reinforcing 7,356 large and medium-sized reservoirs and key small reservoirs and ensured the safety of drinking water for 215 million rural residents. Farmers' lives constantly improved and rural development entered a new era.
3. Strongly promoting economic restructuring and improving the quality and performance of economic growth
First, we accelerated industrial restructuring and innovation. We vigorously carried out technological upgrading in enterprises and enterprise mergers and reorganizations, which noticeably raised the overall level and competitiveness of Chinese industries, particularly equipment manufacturing. Strategic emerging industries grew rapidly. We accelerated the development of the national innovation system; carried out knowledge innovation projects and technology innovation projects; and made breakthroughs in urgently needed cutting-edge technologies, core technologies and key equipment technologies. A large number of research results have been applied in industrial production. The service industry developed quickly and the proportion it contributes to GDP rose by 2.5 percentage points. We greatly accelerated infrastructure development. We expanded the railway system by 16,000 km over the past five years and the road system by 639,000 km, including 33,000 km of expressways. We built, improved or expanded 33 airports and built or reinforced 17,000 km of dykes.
Second, we made genuine progress in energy conservation, emissions reduction, ecological improvement and environmental protection. We formulated policies, measures and national objectives for controlling greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and drew up a comprehensive work plan for conserving energy and reducing emissions. We vigorously developed clean energy. New power generating units with a capacity of 445 million kW were put on line, including hydropower plants with 96.01 million kW capacity and nuclear power plants with 3.84 million kW capacity. We decommissioned small thermal power plants with a capacity of 72.1 million kW and eliminated a number of outdated coal, steel, cement and coke production facilities. We made progress on key ecological forestry projects, and afforested a total of 25.29 million hectares. We applied a combination of approaches to control soil erosion on 230,000 km2 of land, and strengthened efforts to control water and air pollution in key watersheds, prevent and control air pollution and control industrial wastewater, waste gases and residues. We strongly promoted the development of the circular economy. Energy consumption per unit of GDP fell 19.1%, chemical oxygen demand by 12.45% and sulfur dioxide emissions by 14.29%.
Third, we worked to balance regional economic development. We implemented a master strategy for regional development, issued and implemented the national plan for development priority zones; formulated new 10-year guidelines for the large-scale development of the western region and a number of regional development plans; and introduced new measures to stimulate development by leaps and bounds in Tibet, Tibetan ethnic areas in Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces, Xinjiang and other ethnic minority areas. Development accelerated in the central and western regions and northeast China, and their economic growth rates and other main economic indicators were higher than the national average. The economic structure of the eastern region constantly improved, and its innovativeness and competitiveness gradually increased. Discrepancies in levels of basic public services among regions were decreasing, and the development of each region was taking on unique characteristics.