China economists say 'common prosperity' not about 'robbing rich'

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to make significant progress in achieving common prosperity by 2035.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to make significant progress in achieving common prosperity by 2035.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - Chinese economists have moved to ease fears that China's drive for "common prosperity" signals aggressive policies afoot, that will seize money from the rich to close the country's yawning wealth gap.

"Robbing the rich to give to the poor" would only result in "common poverty", said Zhang Jun, dean of the School of Economics at Fudan University in Shanghai, in an interview with The Paper on Tuesday (Aug 24).

"The prerequisite of common prosperity is that the pie must continue to get bigger," he added.

Mr Li Daokui, a former adviser to China's central bank, on Tuesday emphasised the campaign to help more people enjoy economic well-being was a long-term goal.

"It cannot be expected that progress on a variety of indicators be made in the short term, for example five years," Mr Li said in an interview with Phoenix Television.

"We must be vigilant against 'common prosperity' becoming a Great Leap Forward, a risky endeavour, or something that drags down economic development and affects efficiency."

Mr Li, now chief economist at the New Development Bank, told the network it was "harmful" to equate common prosperity with making everyone's income equal, and emphasized the campaign should not be equated with the anti-monopoly crackdown.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to make significant progress in achieving common prosperity by 2035, and elevated the slogan in recent speeches.

The renewed emphasis has led to speculation China may finally push forward a plan to enact property taxes and other measures that will impact the country's wealthy.

Government agencies, including China's central bank, have said they would provide policy support to promote Mr Xi's common prosperity goal, while tech entrepreneurs have also answered a call for increased philanthropy by pledging to donate billions of dollars.