The following is a summary of the Illustrated Guide to the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, published by the press office of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee.
Following the fifth plenary session of the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) central committee, which was convened in Beijing from 26-29 October 2020, President Xi Jinping outlined proposals for China’s new development plan.
The proposals constitute a 15-year roadmap for the further modernisation of the country.
President Xi’s emphasis was on the building of a common prosperity – China is on schedule to achieve what is termed a xiaokang or a ‘moderately prosperous’ society. He stated that meeting the current standards for high-income countries by the end of the 14th five-year plan period, and doubling the total economic volume or per capita income by 2035, are achievable goals.
Innovation was one of the guiding principles in the formulation of these policies. President Xi stated that China intends to see major breakthroughs in core technologies in key areas – a continuation of the ‘Made in China 2025’ policies developed in 2013 and heavily invested with $1.4tn in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition to this, President Xi said that China must focus on the “real economy”, indicating quality manufacturing and digital technology in particular.
Taken together, these aims represent an ongoing desire for self-reliance in an increasingly turbulent international climate. China needs to focus on its own affairs, in particular its further development, Xi said, in order to be able to cope with risks brought about by change in the global landscape.
Although it is hoped that domestic and foreign markets will continue to work together to mutual benefit, the domestic market will be the “mainstay”.
This emphasis on the domestic market is in direct response to three things: first, to what the report calls an “upsurge in deglobalisation”; second, to unilateral and protectionist behaviour on the part of a “certain country”; and finally, this emphasis is a means of coping with the economic crash that was precipitated and exacerbated by Covid-19.
The report also indicates the importance of rural vitalisation and green development. One particular issue that China faces is a disparity between urban and rural development. The party wants this inequality to be reduced, alongside inequalities in development between regions and in living standards.
The process of policy formulation involved over one million comments and suggestions solicited from various sectors. In addition to online solicitations, experts in the fields of education, healthcare and economics were also consulted.
The report makes it clear that the people’s right to participation in a modernised system of governance must continue to be protected.
As the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China draws near (July 2021), the remarkable achievements of China’s socialist system – in the increase of living standards for its one billion population, in the extent of its manufacturing output for the domestic and world markets, in its development of the world’s largest high-speed rail network, etc – must be applauded, and the continuing prosperity of a stable and peaceful socialist China should be welcomed.