CPC puts people first in outlining development goals for the next five years and beyond

By Wang Hairong
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Beijing Review, November 10, 2020
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A press conference on the outcomes of the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China takes place in Beijing on October 30. [Photo/Xinhua]

As China will soon become a moderately prosperous society, what does it plan to do beyond that? The question was addressed at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held in Beijing on October 26-29, when the Party leadership mapped a new blueprint for the coming five years and set goals for another decade thereafter.  

In recent four decades or so, the CPC Central Committee usually held five to seven plenary sessions during the five-year interlude between two CPC national congresses, including one focusing on proposals for the next five-year plan for national economic and social development.  

This year's plenary session was historic. It was held at a time when China is going to enter a new development stage in the process of national rejuvenation, Wang Xiaohui, executive deputy head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, said at a press conference on October 30.  

Meanwhile, the world is undergoing radical changes, such as the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and growing anti-globalization trends, he added.  

The next five-year plan will be the first after China achieves its first centenary goal, that is, to complete building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the time the CPC celebrates its centenary in 2021. It will also mark the beginning of a period when the country will strive to realize basic national modernization by 2035 and then its second centenary goal of becoming a modern socialist country by 2049, the centenary of the People's Republic of China. By the middle of this century, the country will become a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful society.  

The most important outcome of the plenary session was the adoption of the proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and the long-range objectives through the year 2035.  

The meeting stressed the overall leadership of the Party. During the 14th Five-Year Plan period and beyond, China's development will face an extremely complex international situation, with risks and challenges, Jiang Jinquan, Director of the Policy Research Office of the CPC Central Committee, said. Hence, it is more important to uphold and strengthen the Party's overall leadership, he said.  

New priorities  

An outstanding feature of the proposals is that they address the principal contradiction facing Chinese society and put forward a series of strategic and innovative measures, Wang said. According to the report to the 19th CPC National Congress in 2017, the principle contradiction is between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life.  

In the document, the CPC Central Committee redefines the Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy, a guiding principle for national governance introduced in 2014, as making comprehensive moves to build a modern socialist country in an all-round way, deepen reform, advance the law-based governance, and strengthen Party self-discipline. Previously, the first of the four components was to complete building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.  

Understanding the new development stage, concept and pattern is important to understand the proposals, Han Wenxiu, Deputy Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Financial and Economic Affairs, said.  

The goals to be achieved by 2035 have been set, such as enhancing comprehensive national strength and increasing per-capita GDP to the level of moderately developed countries.  

The new development concept, namely promoting innovative, coordinated, green, open and inclusive development, is stressed, and so is safe development.  

In addition, the document underlines the importance of following a dual circulation development pattern, where the domestic and foreign markets boost each other, with the domestic market as the mainstay. It is a strategic choice to raise the level of China's economic development, as well as to forge new advantages in global economic cooperation and competition, President Xi Jinping, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said in an explanatory speech on the proposals.  

Promoting high-quality development, deepening supply-side structural reform, and pursuing scientific and technological self-reliance are also essential to the modernization drive.  

To forestall and defuse various kinds of risks and proactively address challenges brought by external changes, Xi said China needs to focus on taking care of its own affairs and improving development quality.  

There are three things that are particularly important: reform, opening up and innovation, according to Han.  

Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology, said the country will strengthen independent innovation capabilities on one hand, and on the other hand, it will learn from other nations' experiences and share its own scientific achievements.  

People first  

The main objectives of China's economic and social development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period are to make new achievements in economic development, take new steps in reform and opening up, enhance social etiquette and civility, further promote ecological progress and improve people's livelihood and the efficiency of national governance, according to the proposals.  

Key measures for improving the quality of life have been raised. In particular, common prosperity of society will be achieved by 2035.  

Common prosperity is the shared aspiration of the people and the fundamental purpose of economic and social development, Xi said.  

Ning Jizhe, Vice Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said in the next five years, the government will further boost employment and improve employment support for vulnerable groups, increase the income of urban and rural residents through multiple channels, and keep residents' income growth basically synchronized with economic expansion.  

In the past few years, Chinese residents' income has continued to grow. From 2016 to 2019, their annual per-capita disposable income increased by 6.5 percent on average; the income gap between urban and rural residents gradually narrowed; and the middle-income group increased from more than 100 million in 2010 to more than 400 million in 2019.  

In response to the impact of COVID-19, the government has taken measures to increase income and expand consumption, leading to their gradual recovery of growth, Ning said.  

The country will build a sound education system and promote mass cultural activities, and push forward the national fitness campaign and the Healthy China initiative, he said. The national fitness campaign promotes development of both recreational and competitive sports and the Healthy China initiative is focused on disease prevention, chronic disease management and high-quality treatment.  

Strategies to cope with population aging will be implemented, and a fair, uniform and sustainable multi-level social security system covering all people will be established, he said.  

Inclusive process  

The CPC central leadership gives great importance to the proposals, which were formulated under the leadership of Xi.  

Related research started at the end of 2019, Han said.  

A drafting group headed by Xi was set up in March. From late July to late September, Xi hosted symposiums to hear the opinions of entrepreneurs, economists, scientists, community-level representatives, and experts in such fields as education, culture, health and sports.  

The general public and various social sectors were also encouraged to make comments and suggestions. From August 16 to 29, opinions were solicited on the Internet and netizens left more than 1 million messages.  

The drafting group studied the comments and suggestions sent, holding discussions and revising the proposals many times.  

The proposals were drafted in light of the domestic and international situation and the Party's original mission of striving for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and the happiness of the people, and in adherence to the people-centered development philosophy, Han said.  

The document will serve as a guide for action on economic and social development in the next five years and beyond, he said.  

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