The new year 2016, marks the beginning of China’s new five year plan (FYP). China has been drawing up FYPs since 1953. They are a key national planning document for political, social and economical development.
The new document extends the goals and milestones of its predecessor, the 12th FYP, focusing on sustainable economic growth, while improving quality of life for the entire Chinese population. And while the Central Government has not yet released the full details of the new plan, it has indicated that there will be a focus on new industries, areas and interests.
As China’s factories and exports inevitably slow down after a decade of fast-paced and unprecedented growth, the Chinese Government has earmarked technology and innovation as the next drivers of the economy. As such, in the new FYP there is a commitment to facilitating creativity so that China can steer its international reputation away from that as a cheap reproduction culture, aiming to create in its place a reputation that is synonymous with innovation and ingenuity.
Underpinning this will be more funding for China’s learning institutions: schools, universities and vocational colleges to encourage students to stay at home to study, rather than travel abroad.
The biggest reform in the social arena is the abandonment of the one-child policy that was introduced around 1980 to combat China’s rapidly ageing population. The policy was ‘relaxed’ in 2013 and a formal phase out began last year. The new FYP declares it gone, completely.
The age of super-growth has had an enormous impact on China’s social structure – disposable income levels are high and there is a growing demand from the middle class for better quality of life, although a large percentage of the population is still very poor. Economic growth has led to massive urbanisation too, prompting consideration of the way people now live and the facilities available in the cities. Under this new FYP, the Government will also consider the legal rights of farmers and reforms to the social security system. Healthcare too, is expected to come under the spotlight with both funding and reform, including the establishment of more specialised hospitals and aged care services.
There is increasing global pressure on all countries to look at emissions production and China is no exception. This will be a strong focus in the 13th FYP, with more ambitious targets and research into clean energy possibilities.
In the previous plan, major efforts were undertaken with regard to infrastructure and transport routes. This will continue in the coming half-decade with both consolidation and upgrade of facilities to connect China from Southeast Asia, through Russia, Central Europe and Africa to Western Europe. The ‘Belt and Road’ will transport resources, people and capital around the world with China in the middle facilitating the flows.
China maintains its commitment to economic growth that is both strong and sustainable and is seeking ways to achieve this. It is dedicated to respectful, prosperous international relations with trading partners including Australia where there is an agreement already in place.
Without more detail available on the FYP it is impossible to predict the kind of specific strategies China will employ to meet the objectives it has set for the nation, but it is worth noting that China does have a strong track record of meeting (and indeed sometimes exceeding) the targets it sets out in each FYP and it would be a mistake to underestimate its capabilityin any of these areas.