Head of NDRC on targets and tasks in 13th Five-Year Plan

The first report meeting on the 13th Five-Year Plan took place on April 5, and Xu Shaoshi, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), was interviewed by Economic Daily, where he addressed questions and public concerns, such as how to understand the great logic of China’s economic and social development under the new conditions, how to read the meaning behind the development indicators in the 13th Five-Year Plan, and how to seize the main line in supply-side structural reform.

New and higher starting point

The new and higher starting point in the 13th Five-Year period indicates that China’s economic development has entered a new normal state with its three characteristics – speed change, structural optimization and driving forces transformation – becoming more clear, Xu said in the interview.

Economic growth maintained a medium- and high-speed growth in the 12th Five-Year Plan, especially in the last three years. During the five years, average annual GDP witnessed an increase of 7.8 percent, 6.9 percent in 2015, and total economic output reached 67.67 trillion yuan ($10.4 trillion), contributing over 25 percent to the world economic growth rate, Xu added.

Xu said the economic structure was further optimized with demand structure, industrial structure, regional structure and urban-rural structure in the 12th Five-Year Plan period. In 2015, consumption contributed 66.4 percent to economic growth and regional structure development in urban and rural areas was balanced, coordinated and collaborative.

Moreover, the driving forces transformation was enhanced smoothly and rapidly. Forces generated by investment promotion, expanding consumption, and rapid growth and gathering of new industries and new models and market players’ vitality motivated by comprehensive and deepening reform were all growing, Xu said.

Main line in 13th Five-Year Plan

The 13th Five-Year Plan breaks the mindset and takes supply-side structural reform as the development main line. Relating to this point, three main aspects are needed in practical work, Xu said.

First, use quality and efficiency improvement of the supply system as the target and implement policy pillars to stimulate the motivation of new driving forces, upgrade traditional advantages and reinforce the foundation of the real economy.

Second, focus on the five major tasks of supply-side structural reform – actively and steadily reducing overcapacity, cutting excess inventory, prudently deleveraging, taking multiple measures to cut costs and making an all-out effort to foster emerging growth engines.

Third, promote structural adjustment with reform, improve the competitive market environment and mechanism, stimulate the vitality of all market players and enhance industrial structure upgrading.

Meaning behind development indicators

There are a total of 25 development indicators in the 13th Five-Year Plan divided into four categories – economic development, innovative driving forces, livelihood and resources and the environment, Xu said. They are reinforced in four directions.

First, improving quality. The plan indicators reflect economic development efficiency and structure upgrading. The expected annual GDP growth of over 6.5 percent also takes the needs of employment, structural adjustment, and environment improvement, into account.

Second, innovation-driven growth. The plan takes innovation driving forces as a category and increases its weight in the plan. The newly established science and technology contribution indicator provides a way to measure the effectiveness of innovation and evaluate the progress of building an innovation country.

Third, safeguarding livelihood. The Plan strengthens points of weakness in livelihood and established the indicators, such as basic pension insurance participation rate and shantytown renovation rate. Those indicators reflect the development requirement to build an innovation country with the people sharing its development rewards.

Fourth, improving environment. Apart from the former emission indicators, such as unit GDP energy consumption and carbon dioxide emission and major pollutant reduction, the Plan established environment quality indicators relating to public concerns, such as smog and water pollution.

Major policies and projects

Question: Why does the 13th Five-Year Plan put forward a number of major policies and major projects?

Answer: These policies and projects are a reflection of the central government’s policy guidance.

On one hand, the major policies are more centered on adopting new ideas and mechanisms. First, it emphasizes the decisive role of the market in the distribution of resources. To activate the internal driving force of the economy, and invigorate market vitality, major measures have been rolled out involving streamlining administration and delegating power to lower levels, optimizing services, and strengthening construction of property right protection, market system, and finance and taxation system.

Second, complementary cooperation between the market and government will be stressed. In the fields of innovation, industrial upgrading, ecological environment, and public services, a number of measures including strengthening the leverage and guiding function of government, encouraging participation of social capital as well as beefing up the price regulation and tax incentives, have been adopted.

Third, the policy tools and means are more precise and refined. For macro-economic control, directional control method will be adopted; for poverty alleviation, targeted measures will be taken; for industrial policy, structural reforms, especially supply-side reform, will be stressed.

Fourth, as for improving the weak link, government should perform more duties to meet the goals of poverty alleviation, ensuring employment stability, promoting compulsory education, and maintaining the bottom line of people’s livelihood.

On the other hand, major projects, as mentioned in the guideline, will be supported in five aspects.

The first is to cultivate young talent with innovative ideas and high skills.

The second is to beef up support in structure upgrading by implementing development projects on high-end equipment and strategic emerging industries, to promote agricultural modernization, urbanization and the construction of a modern financial system.

The third is to step up infrastructure support concerning the construction of information, transportation, energy, and water conservancy projects.

The fourth is to strengthen ecological and environmental protection with the implementation of major projects on resource saving and recycling such as on energy, water, and land saving.

The fifth is to enhance support in improving people’s livelihood by rolling out a batch of major projects in the fields of education, health, employment and culture.

Eight missions

Question: What are the main tasks and measures concerning the social and economic development during the 13 Five-Year Plan?

Answer: From the perspective of social and economic development, eight aspects of tasks and measures are included.

The first is to maintain economic growth at medium- high level through actively promoting consumption upgrades, expanding effective investment as well as strengthening the streamlining administration and delegating power to lower levels.

The second is to adopt the strategy of innovation-driven development in which technology innovation will play a leading role in making breakthroughs in core technologies concerning information and communications, new energy, new materials, aerospace, biomedical, and intelligent manufacturing.

The third is to promote industry development toward the medium-high level by accelerating transformation of the mode of agricultural development and reinvigorating the country through manufacturing.

The fourth is to promote coordinated development between urban and rural regions by means of promoting a people-oriented, new type of urbanization, deepening reform of the household registration system, and promoting the coordinated development of new urbanization and new rural construction.

The fifth is to build a new development system by further deepening the transformation of government function, reducing administrative intervention, and enhancing supervision.

The sixth is to build a new pattern of all-round opening up by implementing the mechanism of pre-establishment national treatment and negative list management, and promoting the Belt and Road Initiative to carry out practical and win-win cooperation with other countries and regions.

The seventh is to accelerate the improvement of ecological environment by speeding up the construction of main functional zones with a sustainable development pattern in different regions and strengthening ecosystem restoration.

The eighth is to improve people’s livelihood by striving to achieve poverty alleviation targeted at the poor population of 55.75 million in China, establishing a national basic public services list, with efforts to enhance people’s education level and health condition.