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The 14th Five-Year Plan pursues sustainable, high-quality development

Author  :  Fang Ying     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2020-11-13

At the fifth plenary session of the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee which closed on Oct. 29, the proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives through the Year 2035, was adopted.

In regard to the domestic background, the formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan is at the juncture of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and achieving the first Centenary Goal; the formulation also takes place during the key transitional period of initiating the second Centenary Goal.

As for the international background, today’s world is undergoing great changes that have not been seen in the past century. China is now facing profoundly mercurial circumstances both at home and abroad. While China has made major achievements in fighting against COVID-19 and the spread of the pandemic has been basically under control within the country, the pandemic continues to spread globally and outlooks are still not optimistic. The uncertainty of international politics, economies, and security is thus further aggravated.

In the face of new opportunities and challenges, it is the 14th Five-Year Plan’s central task to tackle both national rejuvenation and global changes.

Three points are noteworthy from the 14th Five-Year Plan.

With similar guiding principles and development concepts as the 13th Five-Year Plan, the 14th Five-Year Plan has something new, as it is made public at a period when China is transitioning to the phase of high-quality development.

For the first time, the plan makes “the new development pattern featuring dual circulation that takes the domestic market as the mainstay and lets domestic and foreign markets boost each other” as a guiding principle. This is the strategic measure which copes with the latest changes in the international political and economic landscape, and a proactive action based on sufficient understanding of China’s own long-term economic trend.

So how to speed up the new development pattern?

The communique stressed that reform and innovation are still fundamental driving forces. It is necessary to deepen supply-side structural reform and expand domestic demand, optimize people-centered new urbanization and regional coordinated development strategies, and pursue high-level opening-up to form a strong domestic market. China must also build a high-standard market system through deepening reform in an all-round way and make the best of the market’s decisive role in resource allocation.

The goal setting of the 14th Five-Year Plan is more scientific and reasonable. For example, the 13th Five-Year Plan retains a quantitative target of doubling the GDP and incomes of urban and rural residents per capita, while the development goals of the 14th Five-Year Plan period heavily emphasizes the healthy and sustainable development of the national economy. To be specific, it emphasizes high-quality development’s ability to fully release economic growth potentials to pursue a more optimized economic structure.

The main goals of economic and social development put forward in the 14th Five-Year Plan proposal also had one distinctive feature: National soft power occupies a very important position compared with that of the past.

The degree of social civilization, cultural influence, people’s livelihoods and well-being, public service, national governance capacity, social governance level, and the ability to respond to public emergencies have been further valued in the 14th Five-Year Plan, and for the first time, some of them have been explicitly included in the main objectives of the five-year plan.

In addition, the role of innovation, especially scientific and technological innovation, is placed high premium in the 14th Five-Year Plan.

In the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, it is stated that core technologies should realize major breakthroughs and reach the forefront of the innovation-oriented country list. It was pointed out in the plenary session that China’s innovation ability does not adapt to its high-quality development.

The 14th Five-Year Plan proposal takes scientific and technological self-reliance and self-improvement as a strategic underpinning to national development. Institutional advantage should be fully utilized to overcome technological bottlenecks; the industrial chain and supply chain should be optimized according to market scale and industrial systems; investment in basic research should be increased, and the enthusiasm of scientific researchers should be stimulated.


Fang Ying is professor from the School of Economics at Xiamen University.

Editor: Yu Hui

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