Interview: China's new five-year plan offers opportunities to Europe, says expert

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FRANKFURT, March 12 (Xinhua) -- China's new five-year plan gives the country more room and possibilities for sustainable growth, and will also offer great opportunities to European investors and companies, said a German expert.

Setting a modest annual economic growth target, the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) will provide China with "more possibilities, more room, and more opportunities" for sustainable growth, Horst Loechel, a professor of economics and head of the Sino-German Center at Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

The new development paradigm of "dual circulation," where domestic and overseas markets reinforce each other with the domestic market as the mainstay, shows that China is much intended to increase consumption and self-reliance on high tech, said Loechel, a longtime China watcher.

The new five-year plan, whose outline has been approved by the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, will further clarify how the country will implement the "dual circulation" strategy and achieve high-quality development.

China has targeted economic growth of over 6 percent for 2021, as the world's second-largest economy is experiencing fundamental changes with its development focus shifting from quantity-driven growth to a quality-oriented model.

Loechel added that China's pursuit of innovation-driven development outlined in the plan "is fully right."

Making development plans every five years makes it much more predictable for foreign investors and companies to do business in China, he said.

The expert said he hopes Europe and China can further promote cooperation in such areas as high-quality consumption, technology and green economy.

For example, many foreign companies "are very strong" in high-quality products and services, for which China has a strong demand, noted Loechel.

Besides, China is already very advanced in areas such as artificial intelligence, he said. "If European, German companies cooperate with Chinese companies in this kind of areas, they also have some benefits."

It is also "a huge opportunity" for Europe to cooperate with China in green finance, sustainable development and pollution-free production, as the two sides "have very strong joint interest" in green economy, he said.

"Pollution is not a national issue. This is a global issue simply," he noted.

Loechel said he is optimistic about the future of the China-European Union investment agreement, as there will be a "very, very good situation" with China's "dual circulation" strategy.

Foreign investors will have a lot to gain as they seize the opportunities in the Chinese market, he said. "The German industry, German trade unions and employers (will be) very happy to have a lot of business with China."

"I'm very often asked (by) German journalists: 'We want to talk with you. Are we too much dependent on China?' I think this is a nonsense discussion," Loechel said.

"If you make business, you always depend on each other. And if you see more business better than less business, that means more dependence is better than less," he said.

Noting a "surprisingly high" volume of German exports in January driven by trade with China, the expert said "the recovery in Germany was strong because we had a strong trade with China, because China had a strong growth."

Germany relies much on exports, he said. "That means for us trade is very substantial for any development in this country, especially for employment." Enditem

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