CPC session to formulate 5-year economic plan

Gao Wei
Chinese leaders met on Monday to formulate an economic blueprint for the next five years as the 19th CPC Central Committee started its fifth plenary session in Beijing.
Gao Wei

Chinese leaders met on Monday to formulate an economic blueprint for the next five years as the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China started its fifth plenary session in Beijing.

President Xi Jinping, also the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered a work report on behalf of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and explained a draft document of the CPC Central Committee’s proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year (2021-25) Plan for Economic and Social Development and future targets for 2035.

Drawn up every five years since 1953, the plan is a major feature of China’s governance system, setting growth targets and defining economic and social development policies to ensure national strategies keep pace with the times.

Its broad outlines will be announced on Thursday but the full plan won’t be released until March. Legal and regulatory changes and plans for individual industries will follow.

The 14th Five-Year Plan is expected to lay out measures to nurture a new development pattern that takes the domestic market as the mainstay while letting domestic and foreign markets boost each other, according to a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee last week.

China became the first major economy to begin economic recovery after successfully containing the COVID-19 epidemic.

Automakers and other major industries are back to normal production. Consumer spending edged back above pre-virus levels in the quarter ending in September.

Innovation will “drive China’s manufacturing industry and push it up the global value chain while strategically ensuring domestic supply,” the Global Times newspaper said.

“Achieving independence in key areas, such as scientific research and finance, is expected to be a focus.”

More than 1 million suggestions for the five-year plan had been submitted online in August, and that input had come from universities, think tanks and other official bodies.

Chinese leaders will also discuss ambitious new measures to tackle climate change after Xi pledged to make the country “carbon neutral” by 2060.

Experts say China needs to bring the share of coal in its total energy mix from 58 percent last year to less than 50 percent by 2025, and provide enhanced support for technology like carbon capture.

It could start by setting an absolute emissions cap for the first time, said Zou Ji, head of the Energy Foundation China, which has been involved in five-year plan research.

“Our recommendation is to establish a target to control total carbon emissions (by 2025),” he said at a conference last week.

He Jiankun, vice director of the National Expert Committee on Climate Change, said China must cap emissions and even achieve “negative growth” in coal consumption by 2025.

Li Tianxiao of the Development Research Center, a Cabinet think tank, predicted China would need to double wind and solar capacity to around 500 gigawatt each by 2025.

Zou said Xi’s announcement put climate firmly at the heart of China’s entire economic and political strategy, and China’s entire economic structure now faced “systematic change.”

“Climate will never be a side issue,” he said. “Its position is much, much higher than before.”

This year is the final year of China’s 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20). At last week’s Political Bureau meeting, Xi said the implementation of the 13th Five-Year Plan has been smooth, as the key strategic tasks and 165 major projects have all been carried out, the major indicators will be achieved as scheduled, and all targets and tasks set in the plan will be accomplished.

Over the last five years, the Chinese economy has grown close to 100 trillion yuan (US$15 trillion) with a per capita GDP exceeding US$10,000. The share of China’s economy in the world hit 16.3 percent in 2019.

China now has the world’s largest middle-income population and is set to end absolute poverty, which has haunted the nation for thousands of years.

The 14th Five-Year Plan is of significance as the period will mark the first five years of China’s new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country.

The CPC has set two centenary goals: By 2021, to celebrate the CPC’s centenary, the goal is to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects; by 2049, the centenary of the People’s Republic of China, the goal is to build a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious.

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