How China Developed Its 12th Five Year Plan

Professor Hu Angang, Director of the Center for China Studies at Tsinghua University, published a piece on the Xinhua website last October that outlined the process for developing the 12th Five-Year Plan. The plan (available in Chinese here, also see an English summary of the energy and environment components here) was adopted at the close of this year’s National People’s Congress, March 14.

Professor Hu’s summary describes a step-by-step process involving thousands of officials, stakeholders and experts. The article itself also shows how the Chinese government has become more interested in informing the public about government processes.

We provide a summary of Prof. Hu’s description below:

Step 1: The mid-term review of the 11th Five Year Plan.
In the second half of 2008, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) requested a review from the Center for China Studies at Tsinghua University, the Development Research Center of the State Council and the World Bank Beijing Office. The review concluded that 11th Five Year Plan economic growth targets would be met, but that economic restructuring was occurring only slowly.

Step 2: Research and idea development.
NDRC identified over 20 policy areas and then organized thousands of experts, scholars and entrepreneurs to conduct meetings and write research papers to develop new ideas. The one-year process focused on developing objectives for the next five-year plan, including developing new ideas about the direction of social and economic development.

Step 3: Setting out the basic roadmap (December 2009- February 2010).
Based on this research, NDRC developed an overall plan for the 12th Five Year Plan, with a focus on “transformation,” i.e. changing the economic development model. This concept was presented to the leadership in February 2010, and they used this concept in a number of their speeches.

Step 4: Developing the Communist Party’s recommendations or proposal (February–October 2010).
In February 2010 the Politburo appointed Executive Vice Premier Li Keqiang to head a drafting group, which was responsible for creating the proposal that went to the Party Plenum in October 2010. While the State Council research office, the NDRC and other departments were primarily responsible for drafting, a comprehensive consultation process involved visits by these groups and staff of the National People’s Congress to the provinces to research on-the-ground conditions. They met with a broad range of stakeholders, and this information then informed the proposal presented to the Chinese Communist Party and adopted by the Plenum in October 2010.

Step 5: The Chinese Communist Party’s Proposal.
The Fifth Plenary Session of the 17th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China then met in October 2010. It discussed the consultative draft and announced a “Proposal” that then became the basis for the next stage of Plan drafting.


Step 6: Final Draft Plan (November 2010–February 2011).
Based on the Party’s “Proposal,” specific input from provinces and ministries at the National Development and Reform Conference in December 2010, as well as the preceding research and consultations a final draft is prepared.

Step 7: Consultation with National Experts Committee (October 2010-January 2011).
The Chinese State Council specifically designated 37 economic, scientific, enterprise and other types of experts that needed to be included in a National Experts Committee. These reviewed the draft plan before it was submitted to the State Council and the National People’s Congress.

Step 8: Broad consultation.
Beginning with the 11th Five Year Plan, China set up a program for public hearings. For the 12th Five Year Plan public hearings were held to consider the draft plan, except according to professor Hu, when the information involves state secrets.

In addition, Premier Wen Jiabao chaired a large consultative meeting, involving local governments, ministries, industry and other key stakeholders to consider the draft plan.


Step 9: Completion.
The draft is submitted for deliberation to the annual session of the National People’s Congress (NPC).

The plan was then approved on March 14, 2011.

Xiaomei TAN is a Senior Associate at WRI’s International Financial Flows and the Environment team.

Image courtesy of n0r via a Creative Commons license