5 likely outcomes of plenum on China's 13th Five-Year Plan

A rag-and-bone man tries to come down from a truck in front of an apartment block, in Beijing, China, on June 15, 2015.
A rag-and-bone man tries to come down from a truck in front of an apartment block, in Beijing, China, on June 15, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

China's top leadership began a key four-day meeting on Monday (Oct 26) to discuss a new five-year road map that will set economic and social targets for the world's No. 2 economy.

The plenum on the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) takes place amid growing concerns over a slowing Chinese economy.

Here are five likely outcomes of the meeting:

1. Lower economic growth target

Some experts believe China could aim for an annual growth rate of around 6.5 per cent, a drop from the current target of 7 per cent. It would mark the first time China is aiming for sub-7 per cent annual growth since the reforms and opening-up in the late 1970s.

Talk of a lower target stems from calculations by a top economic planning agency on the expansion needed to meet China's aims of doubling per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) and overall GDP by 2020 from 2010 levels. Assuming China meets its official growth target of around 7 per cent this year, it would require an annual GDP growth rate of 6.56 per cent between next year and 2020, said the National Development Reform Commission.

2. Economic, financial reforms

China could pledge more reforms for state-owned enterprises to free up resources for private enterprises. Greater market access to service sectors such as healthcare, finance and education is expected too. Full interest rate liberalisation may be pledged.

3. Social reforms

China may abolish its one-child policy in a bid to solve the problems of declining birth rates and an ageing population, after dismal results from a loosening of the policy in 2013. The household registration system may also be relaxed to speed up urbanisation and improve incomes and spending.

4. Personnel changes

Promotions of officials are expected, though they would pale in comparison to the last such plenum in 2010, which saw President Xi Jinping become vice-chair of the Central Military Commission. At least three officials could become Central Committee members, while a new Tianjin party boss and Fujian governor may be appointed.

5. Environmental protection

Also expected is a greater focus on fighting pollution and setting more environment-related targets as China steps up its efforts against climate change.