China's new 11th Five-Year Guidelines (2006-2010), currently being deliberated by legislators at the Fourth Plenary Session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), set out the objectives and guiding principles of the country's continued modernization drive over the next five years. Much attention has been paid to discussing the contents of the Guidelines, but less so towards understanding how the document was developed. The following is a basic introduction to the Guidelines, from inception to presentation, by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
Preparatory work takes about two years. These Guidelines were first introduced in 2003, and since then have gone through many rounds of development as a result of more in-depth work including investigations, feasibility studies, drafting, and expert consulting. Experts working on the development of the document point out that the process involves collecting information and knowledge, exchanging views, and a compromise of ideas and ideals.
Professional Task Force
A task force, comprised of professionals from various fields, is responsible for drafting the document. A legion of experts is recruited from all over the country to participate, including officials from central and local government departments in charge of planning, specialists and scholars from various fields, and a special feasibility study committee. The composition of the task force is important because it ensures that the Guidelines, or blueprint, cover every possible aspect in relation to China's economic and social development.
The Transparency Requirement
Industry experts and the general public are consulted at and kept abreast of every stage of the development process. Public opinion was sought through the media over a period of 60 days. Over 5,000 people submitted their ideas and suggestions on the document.
In addition, certain key groups are also consulted including the special committees under the NPC Standing Committee; Beijing-based members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee; Communist Party of China (CPC), government and military departments; democratic parties; as well as government and legislative bodies at provincial, municipality and autonomous region levels.
The Role of the Ruling Party
The CPC has played a very important role in guiding the direction of the Guidelines. For instance, the CPC Central Committee, in addition to conducting in-depth studies into major issues, put forward strategic concepts such as the Scientific Approach to Development, and Constructing a Harmonious Socialist Society. An important first step to the formulation of the Guidelines is developing The Proposals.
In October 2005, the Fifth Session of the Sixteenth CPC Central Committee discussed and passed "The Proposals for Working on the 11th Five-Year Guidelines for National Economic and Social Development." The Proposals is an important document that sets out how the Guidelines are to be developed.
Similar to The Proposals, there is another policy that regulates every phase of the development process of the Guidelines. It covers preparatory work, drafting, consulting, submission of proposals, evaluation and amendments. This policy, released by the State Council, is called "Opinions of the State Council on the Development of the National Economic and Social Development Guidelines."
Some experts and government officials have suggested regulating the process by legislation, which is necessary if the process is to be institutionalized in a society governed by the rule of law.
(China.org.cn by Wandi Jiang, March 6, 2006)