The three-day Central Economic Work Conference of China’s top leadership took place last week in Beijing to set out next year’s economic policy framework and goals. The final statements from what is typically one of the year’s most important economic policy meetings was unusually vague: economic development should continue on the same fronts in the same manner as in previous years and stability is the central focus of economic policy.
Although China has yet to affirm an official GDP growth target for next year, some sources report that meeting participants settled on a target of around 6 % for 2020. If that target is realised, China would hit its major policy target, set forth in 2012, of doubling real 2010 GDP by 2020.
In addition to the economic work conference, the meeting of the Central Committee in late October also had little to say about the economy. Given that China’s decision-makers are well aware of the need to reform the economy and better times for reforms cannot be expected due to worsening economic situation, the lack of guidance from party leadership is confusing. In light of China’s tightly closed decision-making system, one can only speculate as to whether this lack of direction reflects colliding differences among the leadership or that leaders are at a loss as to how to proceed due to the complexity of the challenges they face.