Political Breakfast with Lu Zhongyuan
Berlin, April 6, 2011
Vice Minister LU Zhongyuan, Vice President and Senior Research Fellow of Development Research Center of the State Council, met with representatives of federal ministries, government agencies and selected think tanks to discuss China’s “12th Five-Year-Plan for National Economic and Social Development”. Moreover, the participants elaborated on how cooperation between Europe and China could be strengthened.
Like its predecessors, the “12th Five-Year Plan” explained the priorities of the Chinese government for the next five years and described the economic and social development targets for this period. The participants agreed that the current plan contained new ideas and marked a departure from past Five-Year Plans.
China’s proposals for increasing energy efficiency and promoting the development of green technologies were unanimously welcomed. So was the plan to increase domestic consumption and to stop relying on exports as the sole engine of growth. Among the challenges that China would have to grapple were income inequality and the country’s ageing demographics. Against the background of developments in Japan, the participants also discussed energy policy and the future of nuclear power in China.
Some of the participants pointed out that in many respects the plan represented a shift to greater openness with regard to economic, social and political matters, and there was scope for closer cooperation between China and Germany. In this context, a number of participants said that they were perturbed by the restrictions that China had placed on participation and freedom of speech. Others pointed out that in recent years, significant progress had been made in this area. Even if full participation by the general public had still not materialized, when it came to the decision-making process Beijing wanted to take into account the opinions of the population more than in the past. Thus in the run-up to the “12th Five-Year Plan” there had been systematic opportunities for participation, and ordinary citizens, experts and foreign investors had made significant contributions to the deliberations via the new mediums such as the internet.
On several occasions, the participants discussed the different perceptions at home and abroad of the way in which China was developing. Some people focused on the challenges and the deficits which still existed, while others emphasized the speed of the changes and the progress that the country has made in the social, economic and political terms.
Körber Foundation regularly invites a small circle of high-ranking actors within Berlin’s foreign policy community to its Political Background Discussions. As in the Bergedorf Round Tables, the discussions take place shielded from the public, so as to enable a confidential, frank, and constructive exchange.