China has unveiled initial details of its economic plans for the next five years, promising to build the nation into a technological powerhouse as it emphasized quality growth over speed.
The details released by the Communist Party’s Central Committee stressed the need for sustainable growth and also pledged to develop a robust domestic market.
The new plan elevated China’s “self-reliance in technology into a national strategic pillar.” Laying out their vision for the next 5 years, officials said “making major breakthroughs in core technologies in key areas, China will become a global leader in innovation.”
Beijing’s efforts are gaining urgency as the U.S. seeks to contain the rise of its geopolitical rival. The U.S. has pressured allies to shun equipment from Huawei Technologies Co., barred dozens of China’s largest tech companies from buying American parts, and even slapped bans on ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok and Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat.
“Technology is the key now in the next area of development of China,” said Wang Huiyao, an adviser to China’s cabinet and founder of the Center for China and Globalization. “It’s a key area that China wants to give more attention, more resources and more development. I think that’s basically for China’s development in the future.”
Unlike the last five-year plan, which sought to achieve “medium-to-high growth” in order to build a “moderately prosperous society,” this plan had been expected to focus on the quality rather than the pace of growth. In the statement, officials pledged to stick to a strategy of boosting domestic demand and opening up the economy over the next five years.
Even though the plan doesn’t mention a specific rate of growth for gross domestic product, analysts said the government remains ambitious in its outlook.
“The leadership still expects the size of the economy, household income as well as GDP per capita to reach a ‘new milestone’ by 2035,” said Raymond Yeung, chief greater China economist at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group. “China did not abandon GDP targeting, it’s just expressed in a more subtle way.”
The document also acknowledged the “complicated international situation,” a phrase that has become known for the “America First” policies of U.S. President, Donald Trump.
The statement said the nation would “basically form a new system of open economy at a higher level” in the next five years. While that repeated past promises of increased foreign access, the plan puts a timetable on making progress.
Along with the heightened U.S. tensions, the economy which has been affected by the pandemic has prompted officials in Beijing to “chart a course that draws on domestic resources and consumption to guarantee growth.”
The party’s Central Committee – a group of some 200 top leaders – also sketched out goals as far as 2035, pledging to see the “nation’s carbon emissions peaking and starting to decline in the period while raising per capita GDP to the status of a moderately developed country.”
The plans are expected to be fleshed out in coming months before approval by China’s parliament next year.