With solid progress for more than two years, China is on track to achieve major objectives for the second half of this decade, the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic regulator, said on Dec 24.
“In general, progress toward achieving major targets set by the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) has met expectations,” He Lifeng, minister of the NDRC, said at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature.
The 13th Five-Year Plan was approved by the NPC in March 2016, and set 25 major targets to be met by the end of 2020. It also outlined the country’s economic and social policy framework for the period.
In February, the NDRC began a midterm evaluation of the implementation of the plan, and reported the results on Dec 24.
“Economic growth was steady overall, with the GDP expanding at 6.7 percent in 2016, 6.9 percent in 2017, and 6.7 percent in the first three quarters of 2018,” He said.
The economy also enhanced its ability to carry out sustainable development, He said, as the volume of water consumed to generate a unit of GDP decreased by 13.2 percent during the 2016-2017 period.
Meanwhile, cities at and above prefectural-level whose concentration of PM 2.5 failed to meet air quality standards fell 15.8 percent, said He.
Besides improving ecological conditions, the country has also seen progress in resolving major financial risks and alleviating poverty.
China has also accelerated its transformation into an innovation-orientated nation, with breakthroughs in fundamental research and steady advances in major technological innovation projects, He said.
“The domestically developed C919 passenger jet has succeeded in trial flights, and Fuxing bullet trains with complete intellectual property rights have come into service,” He added.
He recognized other achievements in line with the 13th Five-Year Plan, such as progress in reform and opening-up, and economic restructuring.
But He said progress toward achieving four targets within the plan are lagging, including the proportion of the services sector in the GDP, and the extent of research and development expenditure.
Looking ahead, He said notable changes in the external environment have posed challenges for achieving all targets, such as the lack of independence regarding core technologies, and structural problems in the real economy.
He said the country will adhere to supply-side structural reforms and deepen reform and opening-up to ensure each target is met despite external challenges.
The NDRC also pledged to “speed up formulating policy measures to foster and develop the domestic market, and study measures to expand the market through structural adjustments”.
Dong Dengxin, an economics professor at Wuhan University of Science and Technology, highlighted the importance of achieving a goal set by the plan－raising the proportion of the services sector in the GDP to 56 percent by 2020. The proportion was 51.6 percent in 2017, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
“The services sector is where new business models concentrate, helping the economy’s growth model transit into an innovation-orientated one,” Dong said.
Yao Jingyuan, former chief economist at the NBS, said that further developing the services sector is a major part of economic restructuring, and will aid in stabilizing employment by providing more jobs suitable for an increasing number of university graduates.