Beijing unveils five-year plan without growth target

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China unveiled its broad guidelines for the next five years on Thursday, emphasizing domestic consumption and technological autonomy, but without setting a growth target for the moment.

In the purest tradition of the regime, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), meeting since Monday around President Xi Jinping, adopted the 14th five-year plan (2021-25).

These guidelines will be presented to parliament for formal approval (and unsurprisingly) next March.

A statement released by the media after the meeting called for a “new model of economic development” more focused on household consumption.

For a long time, China has built its growth on heavy investments, especially in infrastructure, and the export of large quantities of cheap products.

But this model, which in four decades has enabled China to go from being a poor country to that of the world’s second-largest economy, is now finding its limits.

“The international environment is becoming more and more complex, with increasing instability and uncertainty,” the document points out, against a backdrop of growing rivalry with the United States and the coronavirus crisis that is devastating the global economy.

As a sign of the reigning uncertainty, the text refrains from setting an economic growth target for the next five years, unlike the previous five-year plan which aimed for an increase in GDP of at least 6.5% per year on average between 2016 and 2020.

Due to the epidemic, Beijing had already given up at the start of the year to set a growth target for 2020.

China must achieve “technological autonomy”, adds the document, at a time when the country’s giants, such as the telecom supplier Huawei targeted by Washington sanctions, remain very dependent on crucial American technologies.

Chinese leaders have also called for accelerating the ecological transition after President Xi Jinping’s ambitious pledge last month to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.

Many questions remain as to how the world’s largest polluter can achieve this goal.

The Asian giant is responsible for more than a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

China has relied heavily on coal to boost its growth. But the Middle Kingdom is also the country that invests the most in renewable energies and a key player in the Paris Agreement on the climate.

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