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Making Sense of China’s New Plan

From Made in China 2025 to the Belt and Road Initiative, the world has often misinterpreted pragmatic or strategic Chinese policies and projects as devious or destructive schemes. The same thing is happening today, in response to China's new Five-Year Plan.

HONG KONG – China’s leaders are currently putting the finishing touches on the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan, which will cover the 2021-25 period. But one aspect of the plan – the so-called dual-circulation strategy – is already attracting the world’s attention. Many fear that China is “turning inward” just when the global economy is staring down the barrel of a recession. These fears are misplaced.

According to President Xi Jinping, the dual-circulation strategy means that China will rely mainly on “internal circulation” – the domestic cycle of production, distribution, and consumption – for its long-term development. This will reduce China’s dependence on overseas markets and technology.

But that doesn’t mean China is withdrawing from the world. To understand what it does mean, one must first comprehend how Chinese policymakers think about the country’s long-term development trajectory.