Talks to map out five-year plan

Top News | Michael Shum and agencies 27 Oct 2020

Chinese leaders began a four-day meeting behind closed doors in Beijing yesterday to map out the country's economic and political agenda for the next five years.

That was under way as central authorities seek to capitalize on the feat of containing Covid-19.

President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, is presiding over the meeting to formulate the 14th five-year plan - a program to run until 2025.

In an unusual step, the committee is also drawing up a vision for 2035, which Xi has set as the deadline year to "achieve socialist modernization."

Additionally, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology made a presentation about the places of 5G, integrated circuits, biomedicine and other key areas in the five-year plan.

The meeting is expected to last four days and little information can be expected before it wraps up on Thursday when the plan's broad outlines are revealed. The full plan will been seen in March.

The draft of the plan also must go to the National People's Congress for formal approval. Li Junru, vice president of the Party School of the CCP Central Committee, told the China News Service recently that the plan will promote self-sustaining growth supported by domestic consumer spending and technological developments.

The focus, Li said, would be on creating an economic model based mainly on "internal circulation" - relying on domestic suppliers and consumers.

"This will be the first five-year plan marking the opening of a whole new development journey for the next 30 years," he said, "and the plan will influence the modernization of China for the next 25 years."

The plan will emphasize the development of semiconductors for smartphones and computers, telecoms and artificial intelligence among other things at a time Washington is cutting off Beijing's access to US technology.

Beijing's plan is likely to emphasize "lower reliance on foreign suppliers for strategic products such as food, energy, semiconductor and other key technologies," economists Larry Hu Weijun and Ji Xinyu said.

Decoupling is a concept that has gained attention as the Trump administration pushed us companies to return manufacturing to the country and rely less on production in China.

An ambitious environmental pledge by Xi is on the agenda, which follows on from the president telling the United Nations last month that China would be carbon neutral by 2060. For now, though, that environmental action target has been thin on detail.

A heavy police presence was seen yesterday morning outside Beijing's Jingxi Hotel, where the meetings are being held. Hundreds of plainclothes officers were around too, and nearby roads were closed.

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