Party’s most important meeting of the year ends with decision to focus on technological innovation as major engine of growth

The plenum also discussed plans to become a ‘great modern socialist nation’ within 15 years

The Chinese Communist Party leadership has wrapped up the fifth plenum – its most important political meeting – where the discussions focused on how China can steady its course of development at a time when the world is at a crossroads.

A communique outlining the decisions from the plenum, which maps out the country’s medium and long-term blueprints for social and economic development has been released.

More than 200 members of the party’s elite Central Committee have been meeting behind closed doors this week to deliberate on the 14th five-year plan, which identifies policy priorities for keeping the economy growing in the middle of a pandemic, supply chain disruptions, toxic relations with the West and a looming global economic downturn.

The participants also discussed a blueprint to achieve President Xi Jinping’s vision of turning China into a “great modern socialist nation” by 2035.

The term is vague and the party is expected to release a more solid plan for the national goals over the next 15 years in coming days.

The communique put technical innovation as the key to achieving that goal and said the country expected to see a major increase in its economic and technical prowess and expected major breakthroughs in core technologies.

The 15-year plan will be the first of its kind and is intended to achieve the second centennial goal set by Xi, to become “a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced and harmonious” by 2049. State media said earlier that the first goal – to become “a moderately prosperous society” in all respects by 2021 – had been achieved and that China was ready to take on the next journey to become greater.

Self-reliance is a theme of the five-year plan, as China braces for the threats of decoupling and diminishing globalisation by pivoting to its domestic economy. The strategy, called dual circulation, would see China remain open to foreign investment and trade, while pivoting to build an internal economic ecosystem less prone to external sanctions and turbulence.

The communique said the 14th five year plan highlighted high-quality growth and the expansion of domestic markets, as well as an increase in innovation capability and better integration of regional development.

There is only one reference to Hong Kong and Taiwan, which said the party planned to maintain the long-term stability and prosperity of Hong Kong and Macau and would promote the peaceful reunifcation of Taiwan.

The fifth plenum typically takes place in the middle of the Central Committee’s five-year term, with the resulting five-year plan serving as a broad brush economic blueprint, as China has gradually let go many of the strict economic goals which were a feature of previous years.

The fifth plenum has also been used in previous years to announce important personnel changes. For example, Xi was appointed deputy chairman of the Central Military Commission in the 2010 fifth plenum.

More than 100 alternate members of the Central Committee and other observers also attended the plenum.

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