As China has become increasingly commercial, the plans have become less relevant to some parts of the economy. Still, they help to set priorities, especially in areas such as energy policy and large infrastructure projects, where the state dominates investment.
Mr. Xi demonstrated the importance of these plans to him by taking over the drafting process, a task traditionally left to the prime minister. Earlier this month, the party released rules tightening Mr. Xi’s power to set the political agenda. The rules appeared to be designed to prevent disagreement on issues like the direction of the economy, said Holly Snape, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Glasgow who studies Chinese politics.
“This is spot on for the next five years,” she said via email.
At the meeting of the Central Committee, China’s modernization goals by 2035 were also discussed. Some analysts have interpreted this date as a sign of how long Mr. Xi will stay in power after lifting the limits of his tenure as top leader.
Ms. Snape noted, however, that such long-term goals are not unprecedented: In 1995, when Jiang Zemin was in charge, Party officials approved a long-term plan setting goals through 2010. Mr. Jiang resigned from his last official post in 2004.
The international outlook
Meetings like this this week are not a time when executives typically make detailed statements on international affairs. No wonder, then, that the heads of state and government did not comment on the US elections or other issues outside of China’s borders.
The plans, however, depend on their assessment of the international outlook, which they summarize in opaque sentences. The latest report highlighted the risks of mounting uncertainty and reiterated recent warnings from Mr. Xi that “the world has entered a period of turbulence and transformation”.
“The world is currently experiencing a great change that has not been seen in a century,” said the Central Committee. “The balance of international forces is being fundamentally adjusted.”
It warned: “Instability and uncertainty have increased significantly.”
Amber Wang did research in Beijing.