Reform and innovation will overcome future economic uncertainties
Every December, Chinese leaders hold a meeting to chart the economy’s course for the year ahead. The meeting, called the Central Economic Work Conference, was held Wednesday through Friday in Beijing this year.
What makes this year ’s Central Economic Work Conference different from those of the past is that the presidential elec tion in the United States, the largest economic partner of China, has voted in an administration that promises to rewrite many of the US’ policies and that the Federal Reser ve raised the interest rate on Wednesday, which may signal a new turn in the cycle of the world economy.
This year’s conference is special also because of the conditions prevailing in China. The country’s ongoing economic transition started four years ago, shifting the focus from quantity and pace to quality and sustainability, and from exports-led to consumption- and innovation-led growth.
Now that all the tasks and their focus are clear, their implementation can be planned more easily.
Besides, contrary to the claims of some foreign commentators, the four year-long anticorruption campaign led by President Xi Jinping has not only removed a host of corrupt and counter-productive officials from different levels, but has also been helping to build a more effective and clean government, and a more competent civil service that will perform its duties more efficiently.
As for the short-term tasks, over the last couple of years China has been effectively urging enterprises to shed excessive capacities and unsold products, lessen debt burdens, lower operational costs, and conquer shortcomings.
The conference has also mapped out new tasks. Its communiqué says little about GDP growth in 2017. Instead, it highlights the need for effectively minimizing the country’s financial risk with the support of a more proactive fiscal policy, flexible but adequately prudent monetary policy, and a basically stable exchange rate to keep the renminbi steady.
It pledges, for the first time in history, a national urban land and housing program, to curb speculative buying and selling in the housing market — especially in large cities — to ensure the health of the real estate sector.
It seeks to take “concrete steps” to incorporate private capital in formerly State-monopoly sectors such as power generation and distribution, oil and gas, railways, airlines, telecommunications, and defense equipment production.
And apart from outlining the reform path for the national retirement insurance system, it has vowed to quicken the development of the property rights system and compilation of civil code nationwide, while strengthening the protection of all property rights, and correcting the previous wrongs.
Amid all the global and international difficulties in economic recovery and development, China remains committed to deepening reforms, and given the uncertainties that lie ahead, the countr y will intensify its efforts in that direction.