China’s leaders start charting course for next five years in their major policy meeting, the Fifth Plenum, with economy and US friction in spotlight

China’s leaders start charting course for next five years in their major policy meeting, the Fifth Plenum, with economy and US friction in spotlight

The Chinese Communist Party leadership started a four-day meeting to chart its future course on Monday as the country faces its most serious external challenges in decades amid the increasing rivalry with the United States and a global pushback in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 200-member strong Central Committee, the top decision-making body of the ruling party, opened its Fifth Plenum on Monday with President Xi Jinping delivering a work report, a draft five-year plan and a document outlining China’s long-term objectives up to 2035 at the meeting.

The plenum is expected to issue a communique when it closes on Thursday. Knowledgeable sources said drafts of the five-year plan, which sets out key economic and political goals for the period, and the long-term objectives would be released in the coming weeks, and they are expected to be formally approved by the National People’s Congress – China’s top lawmaking body – in March next year.

Last month the Development Research Centre of the State Council forecast that the Chinese economy would overtake that of the European Union in seven years and surpass the US by 2032.