By staff reporter TANG SHUBIAO
THOUSANDS of representatives from across the country gathered in Beijing on March 5 for the Fourth Session of 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) to review China’s 13th Five-Year Plan. It created for the country a brand new blueprint.
Economic Aggregate: RMB 92.7 Trillion
The plan states that by the year 2020 China’s GDP will, on the foundation of balance, inclusiveness, and sustainability, reach RMB 92.7 trillion -- a solid material basis on which to comprehensively build a moderately prosperous society.
In 2010, China’s GDP surpassed Japan’s, so making it the world’s second largest economy. From 2010 to 2015, China’s GDP grew from RMB 40.9 trillion to RMB 67.7 trillion. China is now the motive power of the world economy, according to senior economist at Japan’s NLI Research Institute Tsuyoshi Ueno.
Taking various factors into consideration, China must in the coming five years maintain medium-to-high economic growth -- an annual average growth of no less than 6.5 percent -- to realize its GDP target. Under the current situation, setting an overly high target is inadvisable, according to Professor Bai Chongen of Tsinghua University. One of 6.5 percent and above is both realistic and necessary. “The 6.5 percent figure is the bottomline of China’s GDP growth for the next five years, and an achievable goal,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said. Xi believes that the focus of economic development should be on speed, increment and quality. Efforts should also be made to achieve quality, efficient, authentic, and sustainable economic gains. Xi regards medium-to-high growth as one of the three features of the “new normal” of China’s economy.
Per Capita Income Growth: 6.5 Percent
China will, the plan states, make great efforts to span the middle-income trap. Therefore, the per capita income of urban and rural residents must by 2020 double that of 2010. This is an important indicator in achieving a moderately prosperous society, and entails maintaining a per capita income growth from 2016 to 2020 of more than 6.5 percent.
According to World Bank standards, the term “middle income countries” refers to nations with a per capita GDP of US $10,000. In 2015, China’s per capita GDP was US $7,924. If an annual growth of 6.5 percent is maintained, the figure in five years’ time will exceed US $10,000, so attaining the level of a moderately developed country.
The next five years are crucial to China’s avoidance of the middle-income trap, which necessitates rapid development of the real economy, according to head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission Zhang Yi.
Economist Jiang Kang believes that accelerating transformation and upgrading during the next five years is imperative if the country is to escape the potential menace of this trap.
Professor Cai Jiming of Tsinghua University believes that income distribution should be improved. Also that, In addition to highlighting efficiency and justice, it is necessary to coordinate employment expansion and price stabilization with a sound monetary market, so delivering to the people the feasible benefits of economic development and higher incomes.
Life Expectancy: 77 Years Old
The plan proposes carrying out the Action Plan for the Health of China, which entails universal access to fundamental healthcare and services, promoting national fitness, improving people’s health, and increasing by one year the average life expectancy.
China’s average life span in 2015 was 76 years old, the same as that of high- and middle-income countries. To increase it by one year China must invest more in medical treatment and senior care.
Achieving this goal calls for national, thorough-going health education and promotion, popularization of a healthy lifestyle, strengthened comprehensive control of serious diseases, protection of focus groups, and building a healthy production and living environment. Moreover, the construction of a medical and health service system should be strengthened to transform service modes, improve service, so ensuring the people’s health.
Aging Population: 15 Percent
The plan proposes beefing up top-level design and establishing a system to deal with the aging population by constructing a population strategy, family planning policy, employment system, and elderly care and social and health security system, and through talent cultivation, environmental support, and social participation.
China now has more than 200 million people aged over 60, accounting for 15 percent of its population. This signifies the onset of the aging society. “Senior care involves everyone, and is a problem that needs to be solved urgently. The 13th Five-Year Plan presents an ideal opportunity to deal with this issue,” director of Shaanxi Provincial Development and Reform Commission Fang Weifeng said.
Senior medical services remain deficient in many places in China. The numbers of patients suffering from senile dementia have risen over the past few years, and many must wait weeks before they can be hospitalized due to the lack of hospital beds, according to director of the Psychological Department of Beijing Geriatric Hospital Zhang Shouzi. The government has taken a number of measures, including encouraging the integrative development of medical and health institutions and pension services to ensure that senior citizens receive regular care.
Xi Jinping holds that dealing effectively with the aging population is a matter of national concern, and affects the people’s well-being. He urged the government to perfect fertility, employment, elderly care and other major policies as a rational solution to this problem.
Poverty Alleviation: 70 Million
The 13th Five-year Plan (the Plan) lays down targeted poverty alleviation measures that ensure the rural poor have adequate food and clothing, as well as access to basic education, health care, and housing security.
Xu Shaoshi, chief of the National Development and Reform Commission -- China's top economic planner – believes that helping people shake off poverty and rehabilitating poor counties is at the root of improving the people's livelihood. Since the bringing into effect of the reform and opening-up policy 37 years ago, China has witnessed economic prosperity and significant social progress. The 70 million people it has lifted above the poverty line made a substantial contribution to the UN Millennium Development Goals, a feat that UN Under-Secretary-General and UN-Habitat Executive Director Dr Joan Clos described as an unprecedented achievement.
The upcoming five-year period will be the decisive stage in China's building of an all-round moderately prosperous society. China will help 30 million people to rise above the current poverty line through characteristic industries, 10 million poor to find employment, and relocate 10 million poverty stricken residents from inhospitable areas. The 20 million or more people without or with limited ability will receive allowances as part of the safety net.
As at the end of 2014, there were still 70.17 million rural residents living below China's poverty line of an annual income of RMB 2,300 (2010 constant price), and RMB 2,800 (2014 constant price).
The Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party is one of the eight non-communist political parties that participate in China's state affairs. Zheng Xiaoyan, head of the party's Jiangxi provincial committee, holds that China's poverty relief campaign is one of a kind. "Poverty alleviation efforts, together with characteristic industries such as e-commerce, photovoltaic industry and rural tourism, will become new point of economic growth," Zheng said.
New-type Urbanization: 300 Million
The Plan lays down that by the year 2020, the urbanization rate will reach 60 percent in terms of regular residents and 45 percent in terms of registered residents. To achieve this, it is imperative to speed up new-type urbanization and the resettling of around 100 million rural workers and regular urban residents. Accelerating reconstruction of urban shantytowns, where 100 million people subsist, is also crucial. Around 100 million people in central and western China are encouraged to move to cities and towns close to their rural homes.
Chinese President Xi Jinping believes that resettling 100 million people in urban areas is of great social and economic significance. From the supply perspective, under the current situation of a reduced working-age population, cultivating modern industrial workers and stabilizing the labor force and its costs is an urgent matter. As regards expanding consumer demand, it is moreover necessary to stabilize the real estate market and expand investment in urban infrastructure and public facilities. Achievement of this goal is conducive to steady economic growth, social harmony, fairness, and justice, which are at the core of building an all-round well-off society. The reform of the household registration, or hukou, system in 2015 laid a solid foundation for the development of new-type urbanization.
"It will be easy to achieve 60 percent urbanization of regular residents by 2020, but to realize 45 percent urbanization in terms of the hukou, we must strengthen reform and increase public financial investment," researcher at the Urban Development and Environment Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Liu Zhiyan said. New urbanization will bring about changes in socio-economic development, and also promotes consumption and investment. It is hence the largest potential driver of domestic demand and development.