A Glimpse into China’s “Crucial Year” through its “Two-Sessions”

2024-March-10 10:33 By: GMW.cn

A Glimpse into China’s “Crucial Year” through its “Two-Sessions”

The opening meeting of the second session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 5, 2024. (Xinhua/Ding Haitao)

By Light Blade

China’s governance hinges on five-year plans that steer economic and social development. The current 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) marks a pivotal chapter, ushering in a new stage of building a socialist modern country in all respects and propelling China towards its second centenary goal. With 2024 marking the plan’s midpoint, it becomes a critical juncture as substantial progress must be made in accomplishing the plan’s goals and tasks.

Major Goals and Progresses

The 14th Five-Year Plan outlines ambitious goals across five key areas, encompassing economic development, innovation, social well-being, environmental sustainability, and public safety.

A mid-term evaluation of the 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP) and the “Long-ranged Objectives Through the Year 2035” reveals positive progress on key goals. Four targets have been achieved ahead of schedule, five are exceeding expectations, and seven are well on track, suggesting that China is making headway in realizing its ambitious development goals.

The government unveiled an economic growth target of around 5% for 2024 in its work report. Zheng Shanjie, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, emphasizes that this target aligns with China’s current economic potential and is attainable through determined efforts.

Employment targets for 2024 is adjusted to “over 12 million” compared to “around 12 million” in 2023. As for income growth, the government work report vows to “keep it up to the pace” of economic growth, deleting the adjective of “basically” seen one year earlier before the word “keep”.

These changes underscore the nation’s confidence in and commitment to actively propelling its development goals.

Four lagging targets

The mid-term evaluation of the 14th Five-Year Plan and the “Long-ranged Objectives Through the Year 2035” identifies four areas falling behind expectations: reducing energy and carbon intensity per unit of GDP, improving air quality in major cities, and expanding childcare capacity for children under 3.

Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, recently acknowledged during the 12th collective study of the Political Bureau that China’s energy sector faces a confluence of challenges, including high demand pressure, constrained supply, and the arduous transition to a green, low-carbon economy. To address these challenges, China must vigorously embrace new energy.

Last year, a landmark shift was achieved with renewable energy surpassing thermal power in terms of installed capacity. Reflecting this progress, the government’s work report set the target to decrease energy consumption per unit of GDP by 2.5 percent this year. “This goal emphasizes a holistic approach, balancing economic needs with renewable energy integration and the transition to a green, low-carbon economy”, according to Zhou Li’an, a CPPCC member and Director of the Department of Economics and Management at Peking University, who highlights the need for coordinated adjustments to industrial, energy, and transportation structures towards green transformation.

Yu Guodong, a CPPCC member and Director of the Chongqing Municipal Bureau of Ecology and Environment, emphasizes the need to intensify efforts in safeguarding air, water, and soil quality, so as to consolidate the progress gained in environmental protection.

The National People’s Congress recently introduced a slew of measures aimed at improving living standards across various demographics. These initiatives include enhancing conditions in rural boarding schools, promoting inclusive pre-school education, raising the per capita subsidy of health insurance by 30 yuan, and rolling out a nationwide personal pension system.

The policy implications of the “Two-Sessions”

--Boosting confidence with pragmatic initiatives

General Secretary Xi points out when attending the deliberation of the Jiangsu delegation that it is necessary to consolidate the momentum of economic recovery, and boost the confidence of the society in development.Pan Jiaofeng, an NPC delegate and President of the Institute of Sci-Tech Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, emphasizes stabilizing expectations during the pivotal year of 2024, underscoring the importance of grasping favorable conditions to bolster confidence and achieve positive outcomes.

--Developing new quality productive forces

When Xi was attending the deliberations of the Jiangsu delegation, he also called for firmly grasping the primary task of high-quality development and developing new quality productive forces based on local conditions.

“The digital factory promotes the transformation from product-driven to data-driven and from equipment manufacturing to intellectual services. We will cater to the needs of the real economy, engage in technological innovation, transform traditional industries into high-end, intelligent and green, and new quality productive forces,” said Hu Dezhao, a CPPCC member and chairman of Baiyun Electric.

 --Continuously deepening reform and opening up. 2024 marks another important year for China’s comprehensive deepening of reforms.

According to General Secretary Xi, it is necessary to plan major initiatives to deepen reform in a comprehensive manner, so as to empower high-quality development and advance Chinese-style modernization.

“This year marks the fifth anniversary of the ‘Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area’, we need to proactively align with high-standard international economic and trade rules, steadily expand systematic openness, and create a high-level platform for opening-up,” according to NPC deputy Ai Xuefeng, director of the Guangdong Great Bay Area Office.

Editor: WRX
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