Some of China’s Grand Plans Have Gotten a Little Smaller

SourceAsharq AL-awsat
CountryMiddle east

China’s state planners are notorious as purveyors of billions of yuan of budgetary spending, intimidating industrial policy and soaring technology goals. The Five-Year Plan — Beijing’s periodic, Soviet-style economic blueprint — often sends shivers through the country’s rivals. But the latest one is a lot more down to earth. In the 14th Five-Year Plan, several of Beijing’s economic development and innovation targets have been set for just one year ahead. That is much more sensible: Tracking progress in the short-term and amending ambitions along the way is far more effective than realizing half-a-decade later that goals weren’t met but large sums of money spent. For example, planners are adopting a new measure for year-by-year progress: The digital economy’s share of gross domestic product.

This metric effectively represents technological upgrades in manufacturing, higher levels of automation, efficient production processes and new-generation infrastructure to support the use of 5G networks in the industrial sector. The digital economy reached 35.8 trillion yuan ($5.5 trillion) more...