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Major Points on the Recommendations of the CPC Central Committee for Formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035

Source: Xi Jinping The Governance of China IV Updated: 2023-05-24

Major Points on the Recommendations of the CPC Central Committee
for Formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and
Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035*

October 26, 2020

The Recommendations in this draft report present some important points. I would like to offer brief explanations on several of them. 

First, on promoting high-quality development. 

According to the Recommendations, China should focus on promoting high-quality development during the 14th Five-year Plan period (2021-2025). This is based on a sound assessment of the stage, environment, and conditions for our country’s development: that China is still in the primary stage of socialism and will remain so for a long time to come; that China is still the largest developing country in the world; that development remains the CPC’s top priority in governance. It should be emphasized that during the new era and at the new stage we must follow the new development philosophy and ensure high-quality growth. Today the principal challenge facing Chinese society is the gap between the people’s growing expectation for a better life and imbalanced and insufficient development. All challenges and problems impeding our development derive from the quality of growth. Therefore, we must place more emphasis on the quality of growth, so as to improve the quality and effectiveness of development.

The world is undergoing change on a scale unseen in a century, and the external environment for our development is becoming increasingly complex. To avoid or address all kinds of risks and hazards, and proactively act against the challenges arising from the changes in external circumstances, the key is to manage our own affairs well. We need to raise the quality of growth, improve international competitiveness, build our composite national strength and our capability to withstand risks, and safeguard national security, so as to ensure economic stability and sustainability and social harmony and order. We should achieve high-quality development in the economy, society, culture, the eco-environment, and all other fields. 

When we focus on promoting high-quality development, we must follow the new development philosophy. We will take supply-side structural reform as the main theme, put quality and effectiveness first, transform the development model, and improve the quality, efficiency and drivers of economic growth, so that the fruits of development will become real benefits enjoyed by all the people, and their desire for a better life will be consistently met. 

Second, on creating a double development dynamic with the domestic economy as the mainstay and the domestic economy and international engagement providing mutual reinforcement. 

This is a strategic decision designed to raise our economic level in keeping with the times, and to give ourselves a new edge in international economic cooperation and competition. Since the launch of reform and opening up in 1978, and especially after China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001, we have become more deeply involved in the global economy, rising as “the world’s factory” with both ends of the production process – the supply of resources and the sale of products – on the international market. This has contributed enormously to our rapid growth and the improvement in people’s lives. In a changing global political and economic landscape in recent years, globalization is meeting with growing opposition; some countries are moving rapidly towards unilateralism and protectionism, and traditional international engagement is weakening. In such circumstances, we must build on firm domestic foundations for development and exploit the domestic market as an engine for economic growth. With a population of 1.4 billion and a per capita GDP exceeding US$10,000, China has become the largest consumer market in the world, with more potential to boost consumption than any other country. We have encountered various external risks and threats since reform and opening up. However, we have always managed to withstand risks by doing well on the home front with a focus on domestic development. 

To create the new development dynamic, we must focus on driving domestic demand. Our production, distribution, circulation and consumption should depend more on the domestic market, and form a virtuous cycle in the national economy. To this end, we will continue supply-side structural reform, adapt the supply system more closely to domestic demand, eliminate bottlenecks in economic flows, and upgrade the industrial and supply chains. In doing so, we will make the domestic market the major source of aggregate demand, and boost a higher-level dynamic equilibrium in which demand drives supply and supply creates demand. The new development dynamic is not a closed loop but a blend of domestic and international economic flows. A large-scale domestic economy that functions smoothly will certainly attract resources from all over the world. This will both satisfy domestic demand and develop our industrial and technological capabilities, opening up a new horizon for China’s participation in international economic cooperation and competition. 

Third, on economic growth targets during the 14th Five-year Plan period and through the year of 2035. 

During the process of soliciting opinions, some regions and departments suggested setting a clear growth rate target for the 14th Five-year Plan period, and the goal of doubling GDP or per capita income through 2035. Based on careful research and calculation of our capabilities and conditions for economic development, the drafting group believes that it is feasible for our country to maintain long-term steady growth, and China will very likely become a high-income economy according to the current threshold by the end of the 14th Five-year Plan period and double its GDP or per capita income by 2035. However, we should be aware that the world economy may stagnate due to the potential instability and uncertainty of the external environment in the coming years, the potential threats to our domestic economic growth, and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have therefore decided to place more emphasis on optimizing the economic structure in the medium and long-term plan, and guide all sectors to prioritize the quality and effectiveness of development in their work. 

The Central Committee makes recommendations to determine the general direction and overall strategies. The draft report defines qualitative objectives which in turn point to specific quantifiable requirements for the 14th Five-year Plan and the 2035 vision. The relevant quantitative goals can be set on the basis of careful calculation when formulating the Outline for the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035. 

Fourth, on promoting common prosperity for all. 

As an essential requirement of socialism and a shared aspiration of the people, common prosperity is our ultimate goal in social and economic development. Since the founding of the PRC in 1949, and especially following the launch of reform and opening up, our Party and our people have worked without respite on the path to common prosperity, and the country’s standard of living has steadily improved. After the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012 we made poverty elimination our top priority, and eventually succeeded in bringing all rural residents living below the current poverty line out of poverty, which represents a major step towards common prosperity. Today, imbalanced and insufficient development is still a prominent problem, and the development and income gaps between urban and rural areas and between different regions remain wide. Common prosperity is a long-term goal. However, following the realization of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, as we start on a new journey towards a modernized socialist country by every measure, we must give greater priority to this task, and devote more active, sustained, practical and effective efforts. In this regard, the draft report states that “more obvious and substantive progress will have been made towards common prosperity for all” by 2035 in the long-range plan, and lays emphasis on “firmly promoting common prosperity” in the section on improving the quality of people’s lives, along with some other important requirements and measures. Our Party has used these expressions for the first time in a plenary session document to direct the orientation and define the goals. They are based on the realities and conform to the laws governing development, striking a balance between what is necessary and what is feasible, so that we may implement them better and more proactively as we advance nonstop on the path towards common prosperity. 

Fifth, on synergizing development and security. 

We have become more aware that security is a prerequisite for development and development guarantees security. Our country is exposed to the risk of various problems and dangers now and in the future, and risks – both foreseeable and unforeseeable – are on the increase. We must ensure both development and security, be better aware of the opportunities and risks we face, and always have plans in place to respond to worst-case scenarios. We should think harder and more deeply, close loopholes, strengthen areas of weakness, and make preemptive moves to deal with various risks and challenges, so as to ensure smooth progress in our socialist modernization drive.

Based on the above analysis, the draft report devotes a special section to the work of ensuring both development and security and of modernizing national defense and the armed forces. It emphasizes the need for a holistic approach to national security, for strengthening the national security system and capabilities, and for consolidating the national security shield. 

Sixth, on persevering with systems thinking. 

The draft states that systems thinking is a principle that must be followed for economic and social development during the 14th Five-year Plan period. 

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the Central Committee has been planning and pushing forward all undertakings of the Party and the state in a systematic and coordinated manner. In line with the new realities we face, it has formed a series of new plans and policies, and led all Party members and the Chinese people onward to new successes. In this process, systems thinking provides a fundamental method of thinking and working. 

Once we achieve moderate prosperity in all respects, we will begin a new journey towards the goal of building a modern socialist country. We will face in-depth and complex changes in our development environment. The problem of imbalanced and insufficient development will remain, and the conflicts in economic and social development are tangled and complex. We must commit ourselves to systems thinking when drafting plans and addressing these challenges, make efforts to achieve progress in various fields, and advance socialist modernization in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.

Seventh, on the realization of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and the time to announce it. After entering the 21st century, our Party set a goal to be achieved by its centenary: to build a higher-level moderately prosperous society in an all-round way to the benefit of over one billion people. This was a solemn promise to the Chinese people. 

Since the Central Committee defined the strategy for building a moderately prosperous society at the initial stage of reform and opening up, we have worked hard over several decades to meet the people’s desire for a better life. During the 13th Five-year Plan period (2016-2020), which was the decisive stage for realizing this goal, new successes have been achieved. We have focused on top priorities, addressed shortcomings, and overcome weaknesses. We have also taken solid steps to forestall and defuse major risks, carried out targeted poverty elimination, and prevented and controlled pollution. 

The outbreak of Covid-19 had a detrimental impact on our economic and social development. However, under the firm leadership of the Central Committee and through the joint efforts of all the people, we have achieved a strategic success in the prevention and control of the epidemic. China leads the world in reviving the economy and restoring social order. Major economic indicators have rebounded, and livelihoods have been guaranteed. It is estimated that our GDP will exceed RMB100 trillion this year, and our standard of living will improve significantly. All the rural population living below the current poverty line will be raised from poverty. All the objectives for development set in the 13th Five-year Plan will be fulfilled on time, and the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be achieved as scheduled.

As the building of a moderately prosperous society is still in progress, the draft report expresses that “a decisive victory has been achieved in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects”. Sometime in the early months of next year, the Central Committee will make a systematic assessment and review of our work towards the goal before officially announcing that it has been successfully completed.

* Part of the Explanation of the Recommendations of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China for Formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 made at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee.

(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)