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Two Sessions map out China’s new blueprint

Author  :  PEI CHANGHONG     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2021-03-29

Convened at the critical juncture when China’s two centenary goals converged, the 2021 Two Sessions were of special importance as they initiated a strong opening to Chinese development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period. It mapped out China’s grand blueprint for the 14th Five-Year Plan period and long-range objectives through the year 2035, while identifying the key tasks to achieve these goals.

Situations facing China

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the globe in 2021, unsteady and uncertain international factors increase, which have complicated the world’s economic landscape. However, peace and development remain this era’s theme, and China is still in a period of important strategic opportunities.

On one hand, the pandemic expedited the situation that the world was already facing, which featured great changes unseen in a century, and the world economy will still take some time to recover. According to calculations made by the International Monetary Fund, the world economy’s growth rate in 2020 declined by 3.5%. According to assessments made by UN agencies, world trade volume dropped by 14.5% and international direct investment flows dropped by about 40% in the same year. Today, some countries are still trapped in the pandemic’s quagmire, with bleak prospects of not being able to resume work and production. The global industrial chain and supply chain are not stable yet, and international trade and investment has not recovered from downturn. At the same time, the international pattern keeps up its pace in changing and relations between major countries continuously diverge and converge.

On the other hand, China’s economy still maintains a steady pace with good momentum, and keeps pursuing high-quality development. Under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), China achieved major strategic success in the response to COVID-19 and the domestic economy realized a growth rate of 2.3% in the past year. The country attained a complete victory in the fight against absolute overty. China’s achievements, which have won the approval of our people and global recognition, will be remembered in history. By now, the 13th Five-Year Plan has been accomplished and decisive achievements in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects have been secured.

Plans and objectives

In the 2021 Two Sessions, the government work report and the Outline for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 (henceforth referred to as the Outline) were reviewed. The plans and objectives have the following distinctive features.

The first is to place a higher value on development’s quality and efficiency. There are no clearly set goals about the targeted GDP per capital in the Outline, or goals about the average economic growth rate in the coming 15 years. Instead, priority is given to the quality and effectiveness of economic development. Major economic indicators are merely required to be kept within an appropriate range, and annual targets for economic growth are set in light of actual conditions. The Outline does specify that overall labor productivity must grow faster than the GDP. Meanwhile, advancing the new-type of urbanization is required, and the percentage of permanent urban residents among all permanent residents should be improved, with a target of moving from 60.6% in 2019 to 65% in 2025.

The second feature is a higher value placed on innovation-driven development. The Outline specifies that investment on R&D spending should increase by more than 7% per year, and that the percentage of the value added in the digital economy’s core industries among GDP should rise from 7.8% in 2020 to 10% in 2025.

The third feature is an enhanced value placed on people’s livelihoods. The Outline targets more sufficient employment of higher quality; residents’ disposable income per capital will grow in step with GDP growth; the coverage of basic old-age insurance will improve from 91% to 95%; while the average life expectancy should rise from 77.3 to 78.3.

The fourth feature is a greater value placed on ecology. It is stated in the Outline that forest coverage should increase from 23.2% to 24.1% within five years; heavy air pollution and black, malodorous water bodies in cities should be generally eliminated.

The fifth feature is a higher value placed on security. China will continue to pursue a holistic approach to national security and strengthen national security systems and capabilities. In addition, it will carry out strategies to safeguard food, energy and resources, and financial security.

Progress through stability

Pursuing progress while ensuring stability is the general principle of China’s economic work in 2021. “Stability” means that the main targeted indicators do not pursue perfection, and there is room reserved for future advancement: GDP growth of over 6 percent; over 11 million new urban jobs; a surveyed urban unemployment rate of around 5.5 percent; and a CPI increase of around 3 percent. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure the continuity, consistency, and sustainability of macro policies. We will continue to ensure that macro policies alleviate market entities’ difficulties and maintain necessary policy support for achieving this goal.

Regarding pursuing progress, many new measures will be taken to deepen reform. We will streamline administration, delegate power, improve regulation, and upgrade services. We will work to build a digital government. The second measure is to foster new growth drivers in the real economy. The third is to expand the domestic market and improve the domestic market’s efficiency, bringing it to new levels. The fourth is to implement the rural revitalization strategy across the board. The fifth is to pursue opening up of higher quality and further allow domestic and international circulations to reinforce each other.


Pei Changhong is a member of the 13th CPPCC National Committee, a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a professor from the University of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Editor: Yu Hui

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