Zamir Ahmed Awan: What the 14th Five-Year Plan means to China and the world

November 04 , 2020

By Zamir Ahmed Awan, a senior fellow with Center for China and  Globalization(CCG).

Preparations for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) started at the end of 2019 when the central government held a special conference on the formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan. Since then, relevant ministries have started consultations and held internal seminars, meetings, discussions, and debates. Professionals and experts from all appropriate fields across the board from almost all parts of China, ethnicities and parties were involved.

The consultation process and discussions were not hindered due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus. Sometimes they were held confidentially online; sometimes, they were held offline, with participants wearing masks and following strict preventive measures. Public opinion also was collected on the internet when the 14th Five-Year Plan was formulated. Many apps and websites set up columns to call for the general public to offer suggestions. Social media played a vital role in involving the masses, known as the collective wisdom of the Chinese system. Their opinions were then summarized and reported to decision-makers.

The highest level of leadership is involved in the formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan. Even President Xi Jinping has held frequent symposiums on various fields in many big cities in China.

The 14th Five-Year Plan draws all efforts and close cooperation among stakeholders. People from all social sectors of life were involved in conducting in-depth deliberations. The process took about a year. The plan considers the interests and demands of the entire country, various industries, regions, and institutions.

The current disparity between the western and eastern regions, the rich and the poor, and cities and the countryside is still vast, which demands the 14th Five-Year Plan to be more elaborate and fully consider the interests of all people, narrowing down the gap. The focus of this plan is “people,” the ordinary people, the welfare and well-being of common people.

Consistency is the characteristic of the 14th Five-Year Plan, which serves as a link between past and future, continuing the reforms, opening up, and globalization policies. The plan emphasized sustainable developments while keeping in mind the background of domestic development and drastic adjustment of a rapidly changing global order. The 14th Five-Year plan is based on on-the-ground facts and seeks regional synergy of key industrial chains and a new global layout. The global economy is slowing down and international uncertainty is intensifying. Globalization is likely to be reversed, and the international division of labor has undergone significant adjustments. Drastic deterioration of geopolitics has created many unpredictable challenges and public concerns. It is designed to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

The formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan is, under current circumstances, where the international environments are not so friendly compared to the last four decades, when the international community extended the best possible cooperation and enabling environments for rapid developments of China. The journey ahead might be an uphill task, where the US and its allies might resist China’s peaceful rise, and contain China, or counter China. The US is increasing its influence in the region and pulling allies against China.

China has emerged as an economic power and geopolitical power and has different dynamics of its role and contribution. China has the potential not only to develop its own economy but also to contribute toward the global economy. The 14th Five-Year Plan has to take all these aspects into serious consideration.

Based on China’s past achievements and experience, I am optimistic about the designs of the 14th Five-Year Plan. China is a very mature state and possesses all prerequisites to lead the global economy and stability. It is expected that the 14th Five-Year Plan will cater to all possible aspects of future needs. The visionary leadership of China, centuries-old wisdom and hard work of Chinese will meet the expectations of peace, stability and prosperity, globally.