China’s Ambitions in the 12th Five-Year Plan

Source: the Atlantic

As the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference closed this week, it is time to look over the highly anticipated draft of the 12th Five-Year Plan. Xinhua News Agency did a good job on summarizing the key words of the 12th Five-Year Plan. Let’s take a closer look at China’s ambitions:

Economic targets

GDP to grow by 7 percent annually on average;

— More than 45 million jobs to be created in urban areas;

— Urban registered unemployment to be kept no higher than 5 percent;

Prices to be kept generally stable.

Economic restructuring

— Rise in domestic consumption;

— Breakthrough in emerging strategic industries;

Service sector value-added output to account for 47 percent of GDP, up 4 percentage points;

— Urbanization rate to reach 51.5 percent, up 4 percentage points.


— Expenditure on research and development to account for 2.2 percent GDP;

— Every 10,000 people to have 3.3 patents.

Environment & clean energy

— Non-fossil fuel to account for 11.4 percent of primary energy consumption;

— Water consumption per unit of value-added industrial output to be cut by 30 percent;

— Energy consumption per unit of GDP to be cut by 16 percent;

Carbon dioxide emission per unit of GDP to be cut by 17 percent;

Forest coverage rate to rise to 21.66 percent and forest stock to increase by 600 million cubic meters;


— Annual grain production capacity to be no less than 540 million tones;

— Farmland reserves to be no less than 1.818 billion mu.


— Population to be no larger than 1.39 billion;

— Life span per person to increase by one year;

Pension schemes to cover all rural residents and 357 million urban residents;

— Construction and Renovation of 36 million apartments for low-income families;

— Minimum wage standard to increase by no less than 13 percent on average each year;

Social management

— Improved public service for both urban and rural residents;

— Improved democracy and legal system;

— Better social management system for greater social harmony;

More than 10 percent of all residents will be registered as community volunteers.


— Encourage qualified enterprises to get listed in stock markets;

— In-depth reform in monopoly industries for easier market entry and more competition;

— Improved government efficiency and credibility

After being the world’s second largest economic entity, Chinese government finally realizes that the export-driven, GDP-oriented economic development should be replaced by a more sustainable developing way, because there are so many problems being brought up: the high inflation, the real estate bubble, the environment  pollution and energy waste, the underdeveloped social security and so on.

One another thing is also worth to emphasize: the community volunteer is a total new concept for most of the Chinese. China haven’t had a community culture as Western society. Back into the “Red Revolution” period, people are belonging to “Danwei“, which means a work unit. According to Wiki, “a work unit acted as the first step of a multi-tiered hierarchy linking each individual with the central Communist Party infrastructure.” Now building a community culture to replace the Danwei culture indicates that the hierarchy linkage between citizens and the CCP is officially weakened, which I think is a good signal for Chinese society.

It is also interesting to know how Western looks at the 12th Five-Year Plan. Here are two totally opposite opinions: one is criticizing that Chinese government just have a “big talk”- alway has some glorious goals, but never releases any details about how to achieve these goals in its plan; another is hoping the United State could learn from China to have some clear directions in a certain period.

Which one you agree more?

About Yifei Liu
I am a senior research assistant at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). I received a master’s degree in journalism from UW-Madison with a focus on international and economic reporting in 2011 and a B.A in journalism from Renmin University of China in 2009. I am now living in Alexandria, VA.

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