14th Five-Year Plan for national economic and social development

Muhammad Asif Noor

While the global north was gearing up for the mother of all elections in the US, which have strong political and strategic ripple effects, the global south was finalizing in a peaceful and purposeful manner wherein the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China was hosted in the last week of October.

This important and momentous session was concluded with vital decisions related to the progress on socio-economic development and the next steps where the 14th Five-Year Plan for the year 2021-2025 was finalized. These five-year plans are important pillars of Chinese development drive, especially for helping the poor communities to rise above poverty, while on the other hand, these plans help China achieve its goals of global economic prosperity. The five-year plans set forth the growth targets based on the important economic and social development policies, to ensure that the strategies that are adopted to achieve these goals are well aligned and achievable.

This plenary session has also discussed about the blueprint to materialize the socialist modernization in the benchmark year of 2035. China is one of the world’s first and largest countries in terms of population to end poverty that has remained one of the biggest challenges for the country for many years. Two important goals that CPC outlined in this plenary session were first about 100th-anniversary celebration of CPC next year in 2021.

For the year 2021, the goals were discussed to achieve the moderately developed Chinese economy, helping people reach their destined goals. The second goal was to make China the leader in the modernity, development, prosperity, education, technology, cultural advancement till the year 2049 when the country will celebrate its 100 years.

To achieve these goals, Chinese leadership sat down together and finalize this momentous 14th Five-Year Plan for the country to build a modern social and economic structure, and to be the leader in industry, innovation and technology. This was also the first strategic consultative meeting amid this globally-hit COVID-19 pandemic, giving a sense of resilience and commitment to make outstanding efforts for the country.

Over the past more than four decades, China has remained its steady, healthy and sustainable economic growth to the highest level without any confrontation and conflicts with any states, neither regional nor global. As a result of these steady setting of goals and later achieving them in several earlier five-year plans, leadership with vision and wisdom looks towards inside and builds the country to draw the potential of its populace.

These five-year plans have remained instrumental in helping China reach its goals. These plans receive inputs and advice from different stakeholders including universities, think tanks, scholars, government institutions and professionals. According to one estimate, for drafting the 14th Five-Year Plan, more than one million policy inputs have been received. This reflects the involvement of the population in building their country’s future. These proposals and inputs are included in the discussions during the plenary session where more than 200 leaders of CPC, including President Xi Jinping, participate to finalize the visionary blueprint for the country. Despite COVID-19 challenge, and the tug of war with the US, China has remained steady on the ground.

President Xi Jinping and the top leadership of CPC shared their vision for the future of the country, to revolutionize the economic and technological strength magnificently and make it the leader in the global innovation. Another important goal discussed was to move towards democracy with Chinese characteristics, especially to improve the rule of law and governance, etiquette and civility amongst the populace.

Another important discussion was about making China one of the power houses of technology and innovation. In the field China has steady growth of middle-income population with equitable access to basic public services, and progress for all was ensured. The document released at the end of the plenary session was divided into 15 parts and three broad sections, which made it easy to understand the entire mapping of the vision for the future. The first section was a comprehensive overview of the achievements, while the second section was the key tasks described for socio-economic development. The third section had the important aspects about the Communist party’s functions, formulation and mechanisms to achieve goals.

It is important to note that whatever the goals and plans were set forth by the Chinese leadership over all these years, including the previous 13th Five-Year Plan of making China a moderately prosperous society, 99 percent of that has been achieved so far. We can observe that even the slightest better growth targets achieved in this year of 2020 are making China closer to its goals. These four-day conferences and deliberations have also outlined the generation of jobs and opportunities for the small and medium enterprise severally hit by the COVID-19 economic challenges. There were also discussions and important decisions on ways to engage with the global economies. These deliberations will be finally detailed in the next National People’s Congress and later in the annual sitting of the parliament later in the next year in March.

This plenary session is instrumental and path-breaking in various ways, especially at the time when the world is facing a huge challenge posed by the pandemic that has caused great stress to economies. With such resilience, determination and steadfastness, China has achieved its goals earlier and the country will do this time. This decisive meeting has put impetus to drive socialism with Chinese characteristics. And the nation will be one of the most proud and active members of the global community through its standing on all international issues, including climate change and equality, through its shared destiny and approach of togetherness.

The writer is Director, Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies