China’s 14th Five-Year Plan deserves world’s attention, says scholar

HELSINKI, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) — A new development blueprint is important not only for China but also for the whole world, as the Chinese government can usually deliver on its development goals once they are set out, an economics professor in Finland told Xinhua in a recent interview.

On Oct. 29, the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China adopted the Party leadership’s proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.

“It is interesting to contrast China’s use of five-year plans to what one finds in most other countries around the world,” said Carl Fey, professor of international business at Aalto University School of Business in Finland.

“In many countries, politics play a key role in determining what a country’s leader pledge they will achieve for the next several years, and what politicians say they will do and what they do are often two very different things,” he said.

Fey, who spent years in Ningbo city in east China’s Zhejiang Province working as dean of Nottingham University Business School China before moving to Finland, holds that a strength of the Chinese system lies in the fact that a five-year plan really seeks to do what is best for the country.

Since being first launched in the mid-1950s, China’s five-year plans have helped the country build its industrial capacity almost from scratch, lift over 800 million people out of poverty, stick to reform and opening-up and almost finish the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

The professor noted that in China, businesses and citizens, to a large extent, try to do what they can to contribute to governmental programs. In the Chinese system, additional resources will be devoted to what is prioritized, he said.

On that account, China’s five-year plans are very important for the country and beyond, and observers around the world are watching closely what will be focused in the next five-year plan, the contents of which are currently being proposed and expected to be approved by the National People’s Congress next March.

Fey identified as two priorities in the extensive and complex 14th Five-Year Plan a new “dual circulation” development pattern, where domestic and foreign markets can boost each other with the domestic market as the mainstay, and a focus on technological innovation.

Commenting on the “dual circulation,” Fey said China should not only be an export-focused economy as it has historically been, but also focus on producing for and selling to its growing middle class at home. He believed that a more balanced approach could be natural as China’s middle class grows rapidly.

China is placing increasing attention on technological innovation to be a key inventor in the globe instead of merely the world’s factory, the professor said.

This push already started in the 13th Five-Year Plan to conclude in 2020, but is an even more important focus in the 14th Five-Year Plan, noted Fey.

He said that while the amount China is investing in innovation is impressive, “in my opinion one area China could put even greater focus on is adjusting their education system away from memorization and more towards creative thinking.”

China has done much to improve its education system in recent years, but there is a need for further progress if China wants to unlock its full innovation potential, he added.

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