China's new Five-Year Plan, the roadmap for the country's development in the next five years, will bring revolutionary changes, analysts said here in Beijing.
The 16th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held its fifth plenary session in Beijing which closed Tuesday. The major task for the session had been to discuss the national economy and social development in the period from 2006 to 2010.
From "Getting Rich First" to "Common Prosperity"
The theory proposed by the late chief architect of China's reforms, Deng Xiaoping, in the 1970s to allow some of the people to get rich first will give away to "common prosperity" in a bid to bridge the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and to avoid polarization of the society.
That is a historic adjustment to the pattern of five-year plans since China changed its approach to economic and social development in the 1970s.
"It shows that the CPC will give special attention to the construction of a balanced mechanism under a market economy," said Hu Angang, an expert on macroeconomics at Qinghua University.
After China decided to launch economic reforms in 1978, Deng Xiaoping proposed the principle of allowing some of the regions and some of the people to get rich first to achieve a final "common prosperity".
The new idea departed from the egalitarianism, yet managed to energize the country.
More than 20 years later, the average Gross Domestic Products (GDP) per capita has risen above 1,000 US dollars and is expected to reach 3,000 US dollars in 2020.
But China's rapid economic growth engendered new problems.
The lowest-income families, comprising the bottom 10 percent of all families, owns less than 2 percent of all the residents' assets in the society, while the highest-income families, or the top 10 percent of all the families, own over 40 percent of the total assets, government statistics show.
Chinese leaders have warned against extremes of poverty and wealth, increasing unemployment and intensified social conflict.
"Common prosperity is not an unreachable goal, but the basic principle and pursuit of socialism," said Hu.
From "Growth Rate" to "Sustainable Development"
The recognition that economic growth is not equal to economic development and that growth is not the final goal of development, will be included in the 11th Five-Year Plan for the first time, said analysts.
Top leaders have criticized old concepts of economic growth many times, saying that "economic development at the center" does not mean "with speed at the center."
Blind pursuit of economic growth has led to blind investment, damage to the environment and false statistics. The country's helmsmen are worried that without changing China's concept of growth, the economy might develop an unbalanced structure with a lack of driving power.
In the 11th Five-Year Plan, the economic growth will be defined as "Serving the people to improve life quality," said analysts.
"A prediction can be made that in the next five years China will pursue growth in a fair, balanced and sustainable way," said Tang Min, chief economist with the Asian Development Bank's China office.
China will control the use of foreign investment in the 11th Five-Year Plan period, said experts.
Government statistics show that foreign trade accounts for over 70 percent of China's economy. Frequent trade frictions have caused huge costs to the economy.
China has become a major consumer of energy resources in the world. International energy institutions predict that from 2002 to 2030 around 21 percent of the world's new demand for energy resources will come from China. In 2004, nearly 50 percent of the petroleum used in China was imported.
China will try to change its heavy reliance on foreign investment and resources to secure its national economy in the next five years, said analysts.
Favorable to Social Services
The new five-year plan will bolster social services to deal with the imbalances in economic and social development, said analysts.
China's top leaders stressed that it has become urgent to solve the problem of strong economic growth accompanied by weak social development.
The problem of social security is particularly serious in the countryside, where the medical care system and welfare are extremely weak.
During the period from 1993 to 2003, the number of people with no access to medical insurance in the country increased from 900 million to one billion, with the percentage rising from 67.8 percent to 80.7 percent. The number in the urban area rose from 96.53 million in 1993 to 300 million in 2003.
"In the next five years, China will place more emphasis on science and technology, education and health care in policy and investment," said Ding Yuanzhu, a researcher at the economic and social development research institute under the National Development and Reform Commission.
All rural children are expected to enjoy nine-year of free education before 2010, which will reduce farmers' economic burden by 100 billion yuan (12.37 billion US dollars) every year, analysts said.
"The poor and the weak will get more protection and have greater access to social welfare," said Ding.
(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2005)