China has huge market potential to become a "well-off society" by 2020, a major goal of the 13th five-year plan, the country's top economic planner said on Thursday. Hu Zucai, deputy director of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said despite slowdown pressure, the country has potential to generate enough opportunities to achieve the goal.
The task includes requirements for GDP, per capita income, college enrollment rates and the number of doctors per 1,000 people. Hu stressed that China's population means huge demand, which will serve as a crucial driver for economic expansion in the next five years.
Consumption in the tourism, culture and information sectors has been surging, Hu said, citing an annual 100 million tours abroad and 40-percent growth in box office sales this year as examples. Modern urbanization is another focus of future government work, which is expected to benefit 100 million farmers, 100 million living in shanty towns and 100 million in central and western regions, the deputy director said.
Leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) met in Beijing last month for the four-day fifth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, and adopted the "Proposal on Formulating the Thirteenth Five-year Plan (2016-2020) on National Economic and Social Development."
The leading group emphasized that the market should be allowed to play a decisive role in allocating resources, and the government should play a better role. In addition, China shall open its service sector wider. Plans to develop an inclusive financial system are aimed at meeting the rising demands of the people, especially farmers, owners of micro-businesses, urban residents with low incomes, the poor and the disabled.
President Xi Jinping explained that annual growth of 6.5 percent would be required for China to "build a moderately prosperous society" by 2020. "For China to double its 2010 GDP and the per capita income of both urban and rural residents by 2020, annual growth for the 2016-2020 period must be at least 6.5 percent," according to Xi's statement.
He said the target was proposed after considering both economic potential and risks. China's economy expanded 6.9 percent year on year in the third quarter of 2015, the lowest reading since the second quarter of 2009. One of the tasks in the five-year plan is to increase the urbanization rate based on the number of registered residents. That rate is expected to reach around 45 percent by 2020.
China also plans to lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020. Eliminating poverty in rural areas is the most difficult challenge in building a "moderately prosperous society," according to Xi. Increasing fiscal expenditures on poverty relief, private investment and community groups will be encouraged to join the battle against poverty.
Wang Jun, a researcher for China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said that the next five years will see the Chinese economy boosted by demand, capital, the labor force, technology, land and private start-ups.
"If the potential can be stirred continuously through reforms and structural adjustment, China can realize sustainable development even in the next one or two decades," Wang added. The report of 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress in 2012 urged the country to achieve an "all-round well-off society," with GDP and per capita income double those of 2010 by 2020.