The Third Plenary Session of the 13th CPC Central Committee: Clearing the way for further reform
Held from September 26 to 30, 1988, this meeting approved two documents – the Primary Work Plan on Price and Wage System Reform, and the Notice on Strengthening and Improving Ideological and Political Work in Enterprises.
At the time China was at a transition point between two economic systems and was facing a chaotic economic situation and surging prices. In order to deepen reform and opening up, the meeting affirmed guidelines on improving the economic environment, rectifying the economic structure and furthering overall reform. It also set out the future direction of reform and reconstruction.
The Third Plenary Session of the 14th CPC Central Committee: Outlining the framework of a socialist market economy
Held from November 11 to 14, 1993, this meeting passed the Decision on Issues of Building a Socialist Market Economy. The meeting pointed out that a socialist market economy system was integrated with a basically socialist system. In such a system, the market plays a fundamental role in resource allocation within the context of State macro-adjustment and control. The Decision also required State-owned enterprises (SOEs) to reform their operations, establish modern enterprise mechanisms which clearly define property rights, separate ownership from day-to-day management and adopt scientific management methods.
Deng Xiaoping's inspection tour of south China in 1992 was a major turning point of China's reform and opening up.
According to Chang Xiuze, Deng Xiaoping's inspection tour of south China in 1992 was a major turning point. The 14th National Congress of the CPC clearly pointed out that a socialist economy is a market economy based on public ownership. For the first time, China's economic reforms had a definite goal – to establish socialist market economy.
The third plenary session elaborated eight reform categories: enterprise reform, market system construction, macro-adjustment and control systems, income distribution and social security reform, rural reform, opening up, science and technology reform and legal system construction. The "eight pillars"were to uphold the entire socialist market economy system.
The Decision defined a roadmap for the construction of a socialist market economy and took economic reforms to a deeper level.
According to Chang, the construction of the framework of a socialist market economy started in October 1992, and lasted a decade to 2002.
The Third Plenary Session of the 15th CPC Central Committee: Build a socialist new countryside
Held from October 12 to 14, 1998, this session approved the Decision on Important Issues of Agriculture and Countryside Work and set the goal of building a socialist new countryside by 2010.
The plenum summed up the achievements and experiences of reforms since 1978, outlined agricultural and rural development goals, and issued strategies and policies on economic, political and cultural construction in rural areas.
Under the circumstances of rapid industrialization and urbanization, the imbalances in development had widened the urban-rural gap. The Decision reflected the Party's understanding of the need to strengthen rural reform and development.
The Third Plenary Session of the 16th CPC Central Committee: New goals, new beginning
The Decision on Issues of Completing the Construction of a Market Economy approved by the Third Plenary Session of the 16th CPC Central Committee (from October 11 to 14, 2003) mapped out reform and development for the next 10 years. It displayed a scientific outlook on development and put forward new ideas and measures for completing the construction of a socialist market economy. The scientific outlook on development and the "five balances" (balancing urban and rural development, development among regions, economic and social development, man and nature, and domestic development and opening up to the outside world) embodied several significant innovations and accelerated the pace of change in China.
"The most important change was to shift the focus to achieving a balance of social interests," noticed Chang. "Unlike previous reforms, this plenum emphasized people and overall social development."
The plenum clarified that public ownership consists not only of state-owned enterprises, but also includes enterprises with diversified ownership, including joint stock companies. It also encouraged non-public economic entities to take part in any lawful economic activity.
As China enter the fourth stage of its reforms – the completion of the construction of a socialist market economy, the nation started to build a modern property rights system, and began to reform government administration.
The plenum also emphasized the need for sustainable development.
A look forward to the Third Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee
The theme of the upcoming Third Plenary Session is rural reform and development. The issues of agriculture, the countryside, and farmers are of great significance given China's huge population. One of the goals of urbanization is to assist with rural development and find solutions to rural issues through industrialization, said Zhang Liqun.
The theme of the upcoming Third Plenary Session is rural reform and development.
The rural economy has undergone huge changes in the past 30 years. The net income of farmers reached 4,140 yuan (US$606) per capita, almost 30 times the 1978 figure. The numbers living in absolute poverty fell from 250 million to 15 million. Grain output has increased from 300 billion to 500 billion kilograms since reform and opening up. The past 30 years shows a clear track record of continual rural reform.
But there are still major problems and difficulties, such as imbalances between rural and urban areas, between regions, and between economic and social development. The surge in prices that started last year, falling farm profits resulting from the rising cost of agricultural inputs, as well as inappropriate policies, all stand in the way of balanced economic and social development.
"The key to building a well-off society lies in the rural areas," noted Chang.
Ye Duchu suggested people should read between the lines of the work report submitted to the plenum and pay attention to the consultation process, as well as the Decision on Several Important Issues of Propelling Rural Reform and Development, submitted by the Political Bureau. "The plenum will be more important than people expect," he said.
(China.org.cn, translated by Huang Shan, October 8, 2008)