China: 14th five-year plan

N°12-02/04/2021 In a few decades China has become a major player on the international scene.

This situation is due both to its internal development strategy and to its inclusion in capitalist globalization of which it has become a major player. Its capitalist development is obvious and it is in the process of moving from the "workshop of the world", as it has been called, to that of an innovative power in scientific and technological terms, a financial power integrated into the world market and a first-rate military power. The scope of the decisions taken within the framework of the 14th five-year plan should be analyzed in this dynamic of the development of capitalism.
The 14th five-year plan which has just been adopted by the People's National Assembly in China and runs until 2025 is an event of the first importance in that it outlines the strategy of this country in the economic, social and political fields. This plan, which has been the subject of a long development initiated by the Communist Party of China, is based on the achievements of the previous period and projects the country's development into the future. It occurs in a period marked both by the global Covid 19 pandemic which deeply and durably affects global economies and therefore international trade and value chains, and at the same time and just as important, in an exacerbated confrontation within imperialism which makes the Asia region an epicenter of this confrontation especially between the USA and China. The change of presidential administration in the United States is also an important factor in the situation. It is clear already and the declarations of the head of the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, as well as the trip of the head of US diplomacy, Antony Blinken, to Tokyo confirm it: The US intends to work to maintain its supremacy and especially in Asia by creating : a " credible deterrent "against China", starting from the observation that: " Our competitive advantage has been eroded […] We still have an advantage but we are going to strengthen it ”. "Our goal is to make sure that we have the capabilities, the plans and the operational concepts to be able to provide a credible deterrent against China or anyone who would attack the United States." The response to these US statements was made by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi who gave a press conference on the occasion of the 4th annual session of the 13th National People's Congress and answered questions from Chinese and foreign journalists on China's foreign policy and foreign relations. In his intervention Wang Yi underlined: “ Over the last year, one biggest priority is advancing global governance in the right direction. China was unequivocal about countering the surge in unilateralism, and upheld multilateralism and norms governing international relations with concrete actions. In response to mounting protectionism, we committed ourselves to greater openness and harnessed the strengths of China's enormous market to provide more development opportunities to the world.". He recalled the red lines of Chinese diplomacy and in particular the question of the unity and sovereignty of the country: "China's sovereignty is not to be infringed upon, and the dignity of the Chinese nation is not to be trifled with. The legitimate rights of the Chinese people shall be upheld."
It is therefore from all these aspects that a first assessment should be made of the general orientations of the 14th five-year plan. According to Premier Li Keqiang, the goal is for China to be a "modern socialist country" by 2035. It aims above all to "improve the quality and profitability of development".However, the unemployment rate will be kept "below 5.5%", and the "price level will remain stable overall".The emphasis is mostly on innovation. We must "accelerate the pace of digital society construction" and investments in research and development will have to increase by "more than 7% per year".The share of digital must go from 7.8% to 10% of GDP within five years.
At the same time, China must continue its urban development. The urbanization rate should rise to 65% from 60.6% today. The main areas of research involved include next-generation artificial intelligence, semiconductors and quantum computing, as well as electric cars and green technologies. The main reason is that China is heavily dependent on semiconductors and computer chips necessary for all civil and military electronics. It currently imports about $ 200 billion of these components. Unsurprisingly Trump restricted China's access to this market. In fact, he effectively forced China to increase its investment in research by imposing crippling sanctions on key Chinese companies, including tech giant Huawei. More than 60 Chinese companies, including the leading manufacturer of computer chips, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, had been blacklisted in the last few weeks of the Trump administration. The sanctions were aimed at cutting off access to advanced components and technologies, including advanced computer chips which are in high demand.
Regarding ecology, the five-year plan aims to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 13.5% and CO2 emissions per unit of GDP by 18%. "An action plan to achieve peak carbon emissions by 2030 will be developed," the Prime Minister said without further details.
Defense is not forgotten in the development of the plan. Its capabilities are expected to grow, particularly in the maritime domain so important for Chinese ambitions for control in the China Sea.
The two major trends of the plan are therefore the search for scientific and technical independence and on the other hand support for the development of the internal market, while being part of a broader conception of globalization. Thus, while trends are developing in Europe and the USA for a spatial and regionalized redistribution of production in order to better capture the value produced, China is actively campaigning for a stronger inclusion in a globalized market space. This is repeated in all international conferences by the country's leadership. This strategic vision, illustrated by the famous "Silk Road", now called "Belt and Road Initiative", intends to give China the means to be a key economic and political actor on a global scale. Which President Xi Jin Ping sums up:“the East is rising and the West is declining.” This reality, namely the rapid development of capitalism in Asia and especially in China, therefore comes into conflict with the declining imperialist powers and especially the USA, which for decades has been looking for solutions to keep its world leadership. This is the reason why President J. Biden wants to intensify the confrontation with China. It was the concept of the "Pivot to Asia" policy orienting US foreign policy toward China under the Obama administration, of which Biden was a member, and which intensified under Trump. A few months ago, about Asia we were referring to the collision of the tectonic plates of the imperialist powers: ;the evolution of the world situation and of China, the orientations of the 14th five-year plan confirm this assessment.