Comments on the 13th Five-Year Plan on National Economic and Social Development

Zhang Kai


The CPC Central Committee's Proposal on Formulating the Thirteenth Five-year Plan (2016-2020) on National Economic and Social Development was adopted at the Fifth Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee. China pledges to build a well-off society. It aims to double its 2010 GDP and the 2010 per capita income of both urban and rural residents by 2020, which require a 6.5 % annual average growth in the next five years. The poverty of 70 million of rural poor population will be alleviated accordingly.

However, in recent years, China’s economic growth is gradually slowing down, due to many international and domestic constraints. Other countries like Japan, Russia, and Brazil are also encountering the same economic recession. It seems that China cannot even achieve 6.5% annual average growth, hence, the goal of building a well-off society will become an illusion.


Five concepts of development

The Proposal summarized its latest 5-year plan with ‘Innovation’, ‘Coordination’, ‘Green’, ‘Opening up’, and Benefit-sharing’.

The most difficult part of building a well-off society lies in rural areas. If China needs a balanced development, it should coordinate well both urban and rural development. Public services can be extended to the countryside in order to enhance its living standard. Unfortunately, the CPC policy always sacrifices rural society and exploits peasants. Now the document vows to make a balance, in that poor rural areas will receive more national public fund, and peasants will share more public resources. It comes true only if the policy can be implemented in reality.

Shortly afterwards, the CPC Central Committee issued a Communiqué which claims to adopt green development policy, to take a path of ecological civilization, and to promote beautiful China. It also suggests to set up main functional regions for the protection of national land development, as well as to install systems of management and supervision in the environmental protection organizations under the provincial level.


“Green China” is like a castle in the air

Xi Jinping claimed that ecological problems like serious pollutions of air, water, and soil became barriers of building a well-off society. People desperately need to overcome these ecological problems. It is one of the important missions of the 13th Five-year Plan. Nevertheless, Xi pointed out four difficulties of tackling environmental problems: first, supervision on local governments and involved sectors; second, interference into law enforcement of environmental organization by local conservatism……

Why is the central government unable to fulfill the responsibility of supervision on local governments? This is because the CPC has long adopted capitalist market economy. Many officials have become privileged, money-minded, and corrupted. So it is difficult for the central government to enforce the law at the ground level. Xi speaks out the inconvenient but widespread truth.

Ironically, after the announcement of the Communiqué which claims to carry out the strictest environmental policy, the residents of Boyang Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Jiangxi Province, China, went to demonstration, against pollutions caused by chemical plants which were supported by local government. There were nearly ten thousand demonstrators on the streets. The police suppressed the demonstration with batons, tear gas, and even shot the masses with riot guns and rubber bullets. Many people were wounded. What Jiangxi provincial government did was smearing the Communiqué (5 November, Apple Daily).

This again revealed that local officials conspired with chemical plants for profit-making, which led to environmental devastation. The chemical plants caused pollution problems through gas emissions into the air, waste effluents into the river and farmland. All these have endangered people’s livelihood and have caused health problems. However, the local government turned a blind eye to that issue.

In addition, it is hardly to install systems of management and supervision in the environmental protection organizations under the provincial level. According to Wen Wei Po, dated 2 November 2015, the headings were “Smog swallowed Beijing, day was night, people cried out: all eyes, noses, and throats were in pain”. The phenomenon was nearly the same with the fatal smog in London of 1952. Now, Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei Province, among others, are trapped in smog. This proves that PM 2.5 is very serious in those areas.



“Benefit-sharing” may be like an illusion

In order to fulfill the fifth goal of benefit-sharing, the document determinedly makes concrete instructions and timetables. As Professor Wang Yukai remarks, the fundamental issue is how to make five levels of governments put the ideal policy into practice. In other words, it means it is impossible to carry out the policy one level by one level.

Professor Wang argues that China has great achievement of reform and development, but people do not share the fruits. This has led to an enlarging gap between the rich and the poor, income disparity, and regional unbalanced development. Social conflicts and riots were widespread. Put simply, the last several decades of development did not bring social justice to all Chinese people, and wealth is concentrated in a few hands. He analyzes that wealth is concentrated in governments; wealth is concentrated in capitalists; and wealth is concentrated in monopolized enterprises. The three kinds of wealth concentration led to disparity between rich and poor, as well as social confrontations. People cast doubts on government policy which claims to uphold social justice. The key question is: can we let all people enjoy the fruits of reform and development?

China has adopted capitalist market economy for more than 30 years. The unjust wealth concentration is the outcome of the logic of capitalist development which cannot be changed by any personal will. It can be corrected only if we build the real socialist and communist systems which guarantee social justice and wealth distribution. Nonetheless, it is impossible for today’s China and its capitalist system to do it. The Communiqué proposed some solutions. However, people in charge of wealth distribution may take advantage of this progress.

The Communiqué also proposes to improve the health care system, to control price of medicine, and to reform insurance policy, in order to build a modern basic health system and hospital management which can cover both urban and rural areas. Although the existing medical system can be guaranteed in the city and the countryside, the standard is low. China is still struggling to construct a medical system with high-level standard.


Two-child policy

The Communiqué also proposes to implement two-child policy, in order to address the problem of aging society.

The CPC carried out the strictest one-child policy during the 1980s. One couple is allowed to have only one child. There were horrible slogans such as “Beat it. Abort it. Kick it. Absolutely not to deliver it”, “We want to have ten graveyards rather than a baby”, “Give you a piece of rope to hang, give you a bottle of poison to drink”. People who violated the policy were seriously punished, so did rural officials who failed to enforce the law.

According to China Health Statistics Year Book 2010, since China adopted one-child policy, the number of abortions reached 275 million from 1980 to 2009. The highest number was 14 million in one year, the lowest around 6 million in one year.

In order to implement the one-child policy, many local government officials caused a lot of pregnant women to die. In 2009, in Liaocheng, Shandong province, a 9-month pregnant woman was forced to do abortion by local cadres. She and her baby died. In Liuyang city, Hunan province, there was same case of forced abortion, in that both mother and her baby died. In 2012, in Shaanxi province, Feng Jianmei, a 7-month pregnant woman, was unable to pay a fine of 10,000 Yuan. She was forced to do abortion. At last, her baby died besides the mother (3 November, Ming Po). These were tremendous inhuman cases.

For the last 35 years, the CPC implemented one-child policy which sacrificed the happiness and lives of many people. Now, in terms of enhancement of labor force, fulfillment of production needs, lessening burden of aging problem, people are allowed to have one more child. The State Council has approved the new policy. People cannot decide how many children they can have. Yet, the people still have no reproductive rights which are deprived by the state. This is another example of the autocratic policies of the CPC.

In summary, there are many barriers ahead of the implementation of the document. Most of the ideals cannot be achieved. The improved measures are better than none, but they cannot meet people’s desperate needs for livelihood and democracy.

29 November 2015