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China’s 14th Five-Year Plan

Nov 03, 2020

The much-anticipated Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has just concluded. At the session, a document called Recommendations of the CPC Central Committee on the Formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan for Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives for 2035 was adopted as a blueprint for China’s development over the next five to 15 years. This signals that as China moves steadily forward it will become more positively relevant to the world. 

First, the plenary session has a good grasp of the world’s future trend.

According to the session, China is still in a period of important strategic opportunity for development. The world today faces profound changes of a kind unseen in a century. The new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation is undergoing in-depth development. The international balance of power is experiencing profound adjustment. Peace and development remain the theme of the times. The initiative for building a human community with a shared future is becoming increasingly embraced around the globe.

In addition, the international environment is growing more and more complex, and instability and uncertainty have increased significantly. It is important for China to have a full understanding of new problems and challenges in the international environment. China should maintain its strategic faith and manage its own affairs well. It should also adopt a worst-case scenario mentality. This will make it possible for China to derive opportunities from crises and create new development phases despite challenges.

The period of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) is of special significance to the nation’s development, as it moves on to its second centenary goal of completing the building of a modern, strong country by the centenary of the People’s Republic of China in 2049 after realizing its first centenary goal of building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the centenary of the CPC in 2021.

In addition, the post-epidemic world has entered a period of turmoil and change. Economic globalization is being undermined, global public health security is being challenged, transnational nontraditional security threats are on the rise, the game of great powers is intensifying and the multilateral international order is being put to the test, leaving China with no choice but to rise to the challenge. 

Second, China’s new economic progress is leading the post-pandemic world to recovery.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, China will open up to the outside world at a higher level and create a new phase in mutually beneficial cooperation. This includes promoting opening-up across more sectors and in a more thorough fashion, and relying on the advantages of China’s large market to promote international cooperation and realize mutual benefits. China will comprehensively advance its opening-up. It will promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and advance trade innovation and development. It will promote the high-quality pursuit of the Belt and Road Initiative and actively participate in reforming the global economic governance system.

China has achieved significant strategic results in the prevention and control of COVID-19, has taken the lead in economic recovery and is expected to be the only major economy of the world to register positive economic growth this year.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, China will speed up its efforts to foster a new development pattern in which domestic and overseas markets can reinforce each other, with the domestic market playing a dominant role. This means that, in addition to boosting its domestic demand, China will uphold and expand opening-up.

China’s current external economic environment is complex and severe. The pandemic has led to a global economic recession and an erosion of economic globalization. In addition, protectionism in trade and investment is widespread, competition among major powers in science and technology is intensifying and China’s external demand is clearly sluggish. China has thus promptly adjusted its development strategy to focus on the domestic market and innovation in science and technology, supplemented by the international market. Its economic growth and huge demand will surely help the world recover. 

Third, China’s diplomacy helps maintain international peace and security.

The plenary session aimed at striving for peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefits; actively creating a favorable external environment; and promoting the building of a new type of international relations, including a human community with a shared future.

During the recently held 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, President Xi Jinping delivered a series of major speeches. These stressed that China will always practice multilateralism, actively participate in the reform and development of the global governance system, firmly uphold the international system with the United Nations at its core, maintain the international order based on international law and safeguard the central role of the UN in international affairs.

As the world’s largest developing country, China is pursuing peaceful, open, cooperative and common development. It will never seek hegemony, expansion or spheres of influence. It has no intention of engaging in a hot or cold war with any other country. It is committed to bridging differences through dialogue and resolving disputes through negotiation. China refrains from seeking dominance and rejects the zero-sum game. It will also continue to contribute to world peace, global development and the maintenance of the international order. 

Finally, China’s peaceful rise will help shape a new multipolar post-pandemic landscape.

The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II. The global COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a major reshuffle of the international landscape, and the global fight against the coronavirus can be called World War III. The major powers have varied in their performance in this war: China’s highly effective fight against the virus has been evident to all, fully demonstrating its composite national strength and capacity for governance.

In the United States, the Trump administration’s failure to curb the epidemic resulted in its continuing to worsen. Confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. rank first in the world. The country has suffered huge economic losses, and its international image has plummeted. This makes the United States the No. 1 defeated country in the fight against the pandemic. Russia and the European Union face mounting pressure, but they are still doing their best in the struggle.

This shows that the international pattern has undergone subtle changes: The world is not dominated by the United States or merely bipolar (the U.S. and China together). On the contrary, it is a multipolar, unbalanced world, with four major forces: the U.S., China, Russia and Europe.

Over the past five years, China’s economic, scientific and technological strength, as well as its composite national strength, have leaped to new heights. Its GDP this year will exceed 100 trillion yuan ($15 trillion). In the next five years its economy will be upgraded, more resilient and of higher quality. China will basically achieve socialist modernization by 2035, and it will be an even more important part of the multipolar world. 

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