This year marks the end of China's 11th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development (2006-10). While reviewing the past five years of development and the implementation of the plan, policymakers are working around the clock to bring out the next—the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15).
What goals and policies will guide China's economic and social development for the next five years? This question has aroused conjectures among experts. Some estimate the average annual GDP growth rate for the next five years won't be set higher than the 7.5-percent in the 11th Five-Year Plan, as a slower pace can allow more space for economic restructuring. Some point out that the new plan might include more indexes related to economic restructuring, environmental protection and people's life, compared with the 22 quantative goals in the previous plan.
It's easy to see that their predictions all indicate the importance and urgency of continuous efforts in changing the economic development model. Also, judging from the implementation of the 11th Five-Year Plan, changing the development model should be a priority for the next five years.
During the 11th five-year period, each year's growth rate far outpaced the plan's 7.5-percent goal. GDP growth topped 10 percent to hit 10.7 percent in 2006 and even soared to 11.4 percent in 2007. Although it was dragged down by the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2008, it still reached 9 percent that year. Then, the country's massive stimulus package made a swift economic rebound possible, with the 2009 GDP achieving 8.7 percent growth. As the Chinese economy continues to recover, this year will still be buoyant. Already, the first half of 2010 has experienced an 11.1-percent growth rate.
In sharp contrast, two other indexes set in the 11th Five-Year Plan have not been easy to achieve. One is the 20-percent reduction in energy consumption per unit of GDP. The first four years have all seen declines. From 2006 to the end of 2009, the country cut energy consumption per unit of GDP by a total of 14.38 percent. But in the first half of this year, energy consumption per unit of GDP ran in the opposite direction, increasing by 0.09 percent. Whether the goal can be achieved before the end of 2010 has become a serious question. The other index is related to a more rational economic structure—the proportion of the service industry in GDP, which is expected to increase from 40.3 percent in 2005 to 43.3 percent in 2010. First-half economic data show that the proportion was only 42.6 percent, falling short of that goal.
The consultative draft of the 12th Five-Year Plan will soon be discussed at the Fifth Plenary Session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China this October. And the final plan will be made public in March 2011. Whatever the specific goals and policies may be, one thing is clear—the country will spare no efforts in accelerating the change of its economic development model.