Why is China making five-year plans?

Metasequoia trees are standing by the two sides of a county-level road in Wuyi County, Jinhua, east China's Zhejiang Province, presenting a beautiful view of the spring, April 2, 2021. (Photo by Zhu Hui/People's Daily Online)

China officially unveiled the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035 last month, together with several sketch maps that illustrate the geographical distribution of China’s key projects in the next five years.

In a sketch map of the layout of China’s major clean energy bases, wind, hydraulic and nuclear power stations are planned in offshore, southwest and coastal areas, respectively, to demonstrate the country’s resolution to achieve carbon neutrality. In a sketch map illustrating the country’s future urbanization progress, “two-horizontal and three-vertical” corridors are linking China’s major city clusters. Besides, a number of ecological zones, forest belts and coastal zones are planned in a sketch map that shows the future distribution of China’s major ecological conservation and restoration projects. These are all motivating the Chinese people to work for a better future.

With a successful ending of the 13th Five-Year plan, China is starting the next five years in high morale. From 1953 to 2020, the country implemented a total of 13 five-year plans, turning itself from a closed, backward and poor country into the world’s second largest economy. It is the most splendid modernization progress ever in human history.

The 14th Five-Year Plan marks that China has officially embarked on a journey to fully build a modern socialist country. Taking a small step each year, the country has made a big stride every five years. Its efforts in the past decades were powerful enough to transform itself completely.

Five-year plans ensure the coordination for the development of a super large country, as well as the sustainability of its modernization progress.

There is no government of any country in the world that has planned its economic and social development goals for every development phase in such a science-based manner, just like the Chinese government has done, and led all of its people toward the goals.

The targets, content, as well as the systems and mechanisms of the previous five-year plans, by and large, matched China’s historical progress in which it has stood up, grown rich and become strong. They constituted a phase-by-phase and sustained development progress.

The five-year plans have successfully combined grand blueprints with concrete targets. In different development phases, the country faced different situations and tasks, which means the country must concentrate on solving major contradictions and working on major goals in accordance with changing situations.

The 14th Five-Year Plan requests the country, as it has entered a new development phase, to follow a new development philosophy and foster a new development paradigm. This complies to the changes in both domestic and foreign situations, and addresses both current and future problems.

The plan conforms to the general trend of global technological development, and is designed to meet the demand of high-quality development in the next five years, from setting an obligatory target in the energy consumption per unit of GDP, to adhering to an innovation-driven development strategy, and to building a digital China.

In other words, the five-year plans are guided by both targets and problems, and emphasize both strategies and feasibility. By giving priorities to specific fields and major tasks, the plans have turned blueprints into feasible and executable tactics.

Five-year plans carry the common aspirations of the Chinese people. Public opinions were widely solicited every time a five-year plan was compiled. This allowed the people to fully express themselves and marked a progress in which the society built consensuses.

The Chinese government, emphasizing to absorb the expectations of the society, the wisdom of the public, the opinions of experts and experiences at primary level into the 14th Five-Year Plan, has listened to all parties’ suggestions for the economic and social development in the next five years, by constantly convening symposiums on the development of industry, economy, science and technology, as well as education, culture, health and sports.

With a people-centered development philosophy, the five-year plans are building together the wisdom and power of the public.

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