In China, everybody is talking about the “Shisanwu,” especially broadcasters who had to read part of the thing on evening news last night, and while the hype mostly concerns the historic change in the nation’s one child policy, the Fifth Plenary Session of the 18th Party Congress also broadly laid out some other meaningful changes for China in the next five years as well.
This week’s Fifth Plenum was charged with finalizing details of the country’s upcoming 13th Five-Year Plan that will work as China’s economic, political and social blueprint over the next five years (2016-2020), what Xinhua refers to as China’s “home-stretch of prosperity. The whole plan will need to be officially approved when the National People’s Congress meets in early 2016, so far it’s pretty vague. Here’s the full communique in Chinese for some fun weekend reading.
While the new two-child policy is unquestionably the biggest piece of news for Chinese society, the communique also mentions another significant change in Beijing’s decision to extend social security to cover its entire elderly population. According to The Diplomat, online surveys have shown that social security runs neck-and-neck with environmental protection as the issue that people care about the most.
Economically, the communique says that China will aim for “medium-high economic growth over the next five years and looks to increase investment in innovation and entrepreneurship, while also looking to raise domestic consumption as China’s economy moves away from relying on exporting cheap goods elsewhere. Beijing also pledged to double the 2010 GDP and per capita income of urban and rural residents by 2020.
Environmentally, the government continues to get more serious about cleaning up the environment. It linked environmental preservation to two of its other key goals of urbanization and agricultural modernization, insisting that all development be “green” and “sustainable.” To achieve this aim, the communique announced heightened environmental supervision efforts that will hold government officials responsible for environmental damage done in their localities.
Here are the highlights of the communique as chosen by party mouthpiece the People’s Daily which calls the whole thing “a gigantic gift package to the Chinese people.”
1. Population: Two children are allowed for all couples
China will allow all couples to have two children, abandoning its decades-long one-child policy. The change of policy is intended to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population.
2. Economic: Medium-high economic growth is targeted in next five years
China is aiming to double its 2010 GDP and per-capita income of residents both in cities and rural areas by 2020, in order to ensure more balanced, inclusive and sustainable economic development.
3. Poverty Alleviation: China to improve life standards of rural and impoverished people
China will support the development of poverty-stricken counties and cities to alleviate the regional poverty. Also, the government will improve services to care for women, children and the elderly in rural areas.
4. Education: China will popularize high school education and exempt tuition fees in secondary vocational schools
China will promote high school education in addition to the nine-year compulsory education. Also the government will fully subsidize students with economic difficulties in secondary vocational schools.
5. Medical Care: Old-age insurance is to cover full population
China will extend old-age insurance to its full population, by using state-owned capital to augment the existing social security fund. In doing so, China is to build a more fair and sustainable social welfare system.
6. Environment: Most strict environment rules will be implemented
China will implement a more exacting environmental protection system in the next five years. All environmental protection agencies under provincial levels will conduct vertical management for air, water and soil protection.
7. Health: China will deepen reforms of the health service system
China will build a basic health service system and modern hospital management system in both urban and rural areas. A national food safety strategy is also on the agenda.
8. Employment: Entrepreneurship and social innovation are encouraged
The Chinese government will implement more positive employment policies, which includes encouraging startups, improving working conditions for technicians, and supporting mass innovation for new industries.
9. Price: Chinese government will intervene less in price formation
The Chinese government will deregulate pricing products and services in competitive sectors from 2016 to 2020. It will also cut red tape, delegate more power to local authorities, and improve government services.
10. Anti-Corruption: China will fully enforce anti-graft campaign
China will continue its efforts to fight corruption and strictly govern the Party, as the communique noted.
It’s going to be quite the next five years.