Formally adopted on March 11, China’s 14th Five-Year Plan marks a shift away from the quantitative growth-focus of Beijing’s previous plans. Instead, it aims to usher in a more inward-looking “new developmental stage” that targets “quality development.”
The Chinese leadership's plan for China’s development from 2021 to 2025 prioritizes what it calls the “internal cycle,” by which it aims to strengthen the domestic economy and consolidate social development. The goal is to cut as quickly as possible the reliance on foreign technology and dependence on imported resources, and to double down on existing plans for industrial modernization and technological innovation.
The long-term goal of this repointed development strategy – away from economic growth targets and towards systemic resilience – is not only self-sufficiency in essential resources and key technologies. Its stated aim is to become a “manufacturing superpower” and a global leader in strategically important emerging industries. In stating its “long-term objective” of “basically completing socialist modernization” by 2035, the CCP even suggests a timeframe in which it plans to fulfill this ambitious goal.
Unlike its predecessors, the 14th Five-Year Plan contains no concrete targets for growth of gross domestic product (GDP) and only a modest sprinkling of other economic targets. Given rising international tensions and what the document calls “challenges unseen in a century,” omitting targets could be wise. But even for a strategic policy outline, the plan is vague about implementation of and possible mechanisms to achieve its goals.
Making China even greater
The plan consists of 19 sections (篇), 65 chapters (章), and 175 sub-sections (节). We identified 12 general policy areas and counted the chapters on each (see Exhibit 1). The largest number is dedicated to strengthening China’s domestic socio-economic foundations (14%), and to supporting technology and innovation (also 14%). The space given over to these issues gives these areas more prominence than more traditional ones like infrastructure and urbanization. They even outnumber chapters on public sector reforms and welfare.