BEIJING -- With work already underway on China's next five-year economic blueprint, attention is turning to how the government will achieve its formidable goals for lifting gross domestic product and incomes amid slowing growth.
On Wednesday, the National Development and Reform Commission, or NDRC, began gathering input from universities, business groups and others to aid in the drafting of the 13th Five-Year Plan, which will start in 2016. The top economic planning body is soliciting opinions on issues spanning 25 areas of concern, including changes abroad, the expansion of individual consumption and environmental protection.
The issue sure to draw the most attention in the 13th plan, the first since President Xi Jinping took power, is how China intends to double both GDP and per-capita income over 2010 levels by 2020.
To meet that target, growth will have to set at an average annual pace of just over 7%. The current plan, which was made under former President Hu Jintao and runs through 2015, assumed GDP growth of 7%, 0.5 percentage point lower than the previous plan.
But it is widely expected that, with lifting incomes a central aim, the new plan will have to keep in place the 7% annual growth target.
Efforts to implement reforms will be key to maintaining stable growth. One central aspect of the plan will be plotting a course for reforms that allow market forces to play a greater role, as decided at last fall's Third Plenum meeting of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.
There is a deep sense of crisis among top leaders that the economy will stall and relegate China to middle-income-nation status, neither wealthy nor able to grow rapidly.
But five-year plans, a relic of Soviet-style economic planning that China adopted in the 1950s, often fail to keep pace with social and economic change.
Confiding in a trusted economist last spring, Premier Li Keqiang bemoaned the fact that the five-year plan didn't reflect new currents in industry like the advent of 3-D printing.
At a news conference Wednesday, the head of the NDRC's Department of Development Planning, Xu Lin, pointed to new demands posed by external changes such as the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral free trade agreement.
China has struggled to address severe pollution, notably PM2.5, a form of fine particulate matter. With an ear cocked to popular discontent, the government is considering gathering opinions through the Twitter-like microblogging service Weibo, Xu also said.
A draft of the 13th Five-Year Plan will be drawn up in the fall of 2015, before the guidelines are officially adopted by the National People's Congress, China's legislature, in spring 2016.