Chinese President Xi Jinping and fellow politicians gathered on Monday to draw up an economic plan for the next five years as the nation prepares to re-boost its economy following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beijing’s senior leaders will also meet for four days to map out the country’s new Five-Year Plan, the diverse policy framework by which China will be governed from 2021 to 2025.
Little information has been revealed to the public about this week’s meeting in Beijing, but the Communist leadership is expected to focus on central issues including the future of China’s technology and Xi’s pledge to go carbon neutral by 2060.
The Five-Year Plan – the 14th in a series issued since the 1950s – is the foundation for government industrial plans in the heavily regulated economy.
Economic Spat Between US and China Continues
Although the full plan won’t be revealed until March, one crucial topic could be the development of semiconductors and other technology at a time when Washington is cutting off Chinese companies’ access to technology. The Chinese economy is likely become increasingly self-sufficient over the next five years.
The latest aims of the Chinese Communist Party were inspired by the ongoing spat between China and the US. As US President Donald Trump’s administration tightens its choke-hold on Beijing’s leading technological companies such as Huawei, the Chinese Government is set to pour another $1.4 trillion into its technology sector by 2025. This represents an opportunity for Xi to boost an industry that has suffered over the past 30 years due to inefficiency.
America is China’s Biggest Obstacle to Achieving Global Dominance
Furthermore, China’s economy has grown 4.9 percent in the third quarter from last year whilst the US economy shrunk by 4.3 percent. With the Chinese economy on course to overtake the America’s in 2030, Xi’s Five-Year Plan could impact the rest of the world because it could make other nations realize that China is the only country whose economy has benefited from the global fallout caused by the coronavirus.
The current rivalry between the US and China started under Trump’s presidency, and he was the first leader to alert the West to Beijing’s growing dominance long before COVID-19. If Trump is re-elected in November, he will continue to reduce the US’s dependence upon China and the competition between Washington and Beijing will only intensify. If the next U.S. president can spur the levels of economic growth witnessed toward the end of the last decade, then America will become China’s biggest obstacle to world dominance.
It is Time for the West to Wake Up to the Threat That China poses
Maybe other nations might follow America’s lead on China. Former German spy chief Gerhard Schindler recently said that Germany should shut Huawei out of its 5G mobile network and warned that China’s rulers were “very cleverly” spreading their influence. There is a lot of truth behind his argument as whilst the rest of the world was focused on curbing COVID-19’s spread, China capitalized on the globe’s distraction by claiming its sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea and it asserted more authority over Hong Kong.
The timing of China’s Five-Year Plan is also not a coincidence as it will be used to expand China’s economic growth whilst Western economies shrink in size.
Equally, China’s recent growth figures must be taken with a pinch of salt. Leland Miller, chief executive of the China Beige Book consultancy, which monitors the Chinese economy, told The Guardian that China recorded growth of 0.8 percent in fixed-asset investment for the first three quarters of the year, compared with 2019, but the absolute figures for the same period showed a drop of several trillion yuan. This means overall GDP could be much lower than the headline figure.
Other long-term challenges include an ageing population and debt. If these problems are not dealt with, they will hinder China’s economic growth in the future.
China’s Five-Year Plan should act as a wake-up call for the rest of the world to start taking the threat that Beijing poses seriously. Will other nations adopt the same approach toward China as the US? Only time will tell, but this should be a turning point for the West regardless.