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UPDATED: October 25, 2010 NO. 43 OCTOBER 28, 2010
Charting China's New Course
China's development plan is expected to highlight new priorities rather than high growth rates

DECISION-MAKERS: Hu Jintao (center) and the other eight Politburo Standing Committee members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) attend the Fifth Plenary Session of the 17th CPC Central Committee in Beijing on October 18 (FAN RUJUN)

China aims to achieve "major breakthroughs" in economic restructuring and will take reform as "a powerful driving force" to accelerate the transformation of its economic development pattern. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) made its intentions clear after approving a blueprint for the next five years on its fifth plenary session, which ended on October 18.

Hu Jintao, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered a work report at the four-day session of the 17th CPC Central Committee.

The plenum examined and approved proposals for formulating the development plan for the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), a roadmap for the development of the country in the next five years, and appointed Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, 57, as vice chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission.

The next five years are a critical stage for China to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way, said the communique issued at the close of the plenum.

In setting the plan, the CPC "must adapt to the changes of domestic and international situations and comply with the people's new expectations of living better lives," said the communique.

It said the 12th Five-Year Plan period was a time of difficult issues for deepening the reform and opening-up process and accelerating the transformation of the nation's economic development pattern.

Zhang Ping, an economist from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said on October 19 that the most daunting international challenges for China at the inception of the 12th Five-Year Plan will be the slow global economic recovery, international hot money flooding China and the growing pressure on China to negotiate with other countries over its economic policies due to the size of its economy.

Zhang said that domestically China should be cautious to avoid falling into the "middle-income trap" over the next five years. The "middle-income trap," a concept coined by the World Bank, is that the strategies that allow countries to grow from low income to middle income are not enough to get them to high income. Historically, few countries have mastered the complex technical, social and political challenges that arise, according to the World Bank.

Key missions

The communique said China aims to maintain stable and relatively fast economic growth, which is a key target for the next five years.

"China will further boost people's incomes, enhance social construction and deepen reform and opening up," the communique said.

That would facilitate "substantial progress in transforming the economic development pattern, and markedly promote China's comprehensive national strength, international competitiveness and better shield against risks," it said.

It would also help improve people's lives and consolidate the basis of a well-off society, it said.

Zhang said that the biggest features of the 12th Five-Year Plan include efforts to expand domestic demand, coordinate development in different regions, improve people's livelihoods and boost consumption.

To speed up the transformation of the economic development pattern marks a profound reform and should proceed throughout all sectors of economic and social development, said the communique. According to the document, economic strategic restructuring should be a major task in transformation.

Amid an ambitious goal for growth, the CPC also pledged to enhance efforts to save energy and resources and build an environmentally friendly society.

Lawrence Greenwood, Vice President of the Asian Development Bank, believed restructuring was a necessary step for the country to move up the ladder to become a middle- and high-income nation, and help solve the global economic imbalance problem.

He told Xinhua News Agency that many challenges during China's development sprang from its over-reliance on heavy industry after the Asian financial crisis, as investment poured into energy-intensive and environment-unfriendly industries.

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