China is about to adopt its 11th five-year plan, setting the stage for the continuation of probably the most remarkable economic transformation in history, while improving the well-being of almost a quarter of the world’s population. Never before has the world seen such sustained growth; never before has there been so much poverty reduction.
Part of the key to China’s long-run success has been its almost unique combination of pragmatism and vision. While much of the rest of the developing world, following the Washington Consensus, has been directed at a quixotic quest for higher GDP, China has once again made clear that it seeks sustainable and more equitable increases in real living standards.
China realizes that it has entered a phase of economic growth that is imposing enormous – and unsustainable – demands on the environment. Unless there is a change in course, living standards will eventually be compromised. That is why the new five-year plan places great emphasis on the environment.