News / Asia

China's Third Plenum: A Primer

In this file photo dated Sept. 19, 2004, nine senior members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of CPC present at the Fourth Plenum of the 16th CPC Central Committee in Beijing.
In this file photo dated Sept. 19, 2004, nine senior members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of CPC present at the Fourth Plenum of the 16th CPC Central Committee in Beijing.
VOA News
The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, commonly referred to as the Third Plenum, is the third party meeting since Xi Jinping was named Communist Party secretary last November. Third plenums are seen as important political gatherings where the new leadership can map out new policy directions, and set the pace for future reforms.

History

In 1978, two years after Mao Zedong's death, Deng Xiaoping announced the "opening up and reform" strategy that introduced principles of capitalistic economy into the Chinese system and allowed foreign investment to enter the Chinese market. In 1993, then premier Zhu Rongji endorsed the concept of "socialist market economy." The meeting created momentum for deeper liberalization of sectors that had previously been firmly in the hands of the state.

Chinese policeman on duty in central Beijing ahead of the 205-member Central Committee's third plenum, Nov. 7, 2013.
Chinese policeman on duty in central Beijing ahead of the 205-member Central Committee's third plenum, Nov. 7, 2013.


Economic reforms

Chinese leaders are working on a combination of reform proposals that will help push China into the next phase of its economic growth: one less reliant on heavy industry, government investment and infrastructure projects. President Xi Jinping has talked about the need to realize China's rejuvenation, and China's dream. Analysts believe that together with financial and economic measures to rein in the power of vested interests within the state-owned sector, Chinese leaders will need to tackle issues of social justice and income inequality.  

Banking sector

The Chinese banking system is monopolized by large state-owned institutions that favor funding state-owned enterprises instead of smaller private businesses. Interest rates are kept low, which limits Chinese savers' options for investment and consumption. To spur more spending from consumers, Chinese leaders have talked about diversifying the banking sector and relaxing restrictions on deposit interest rates.

Fiscal and tax system

The current taxation system in China was reorganized in the 1990s by then premier Zhu Rongji to redistribute tax revenues in favor of the central government. At the time, the move was seen as an attempt to avoid local corruption, but analysts agree that the system has now run its course. Local governments are strapped for cash. In recent years they have resorted to land sales and massive amounts of credit for their operational revenues. Tax reform will attempt to redistribute fiscal revenues to local governments.

Land

Land collectivization in the 1950s took farmers' property rights to the land and transferred them to communes, managed by local party officials. Such a set-up largely still exists in the Chinese countryside, and allows local governments to arbitrarily sell farmers' land. Land reform would grant farmers more protection by allowing them to sell rural land and properties at market value.  

Welfare

Welfare reform includes the creation of a pension system, and the extension of health care and education benefits to rural areas and migrant workers. Improvement of the current welfare system is one of the most immediate demands of China's citizens. Analysts agree that by strengthening China's welfare safety net, the government would also be encouraging Chinese to consume more instead of saving. 

Hukou

Internal migration in China has often been dubbed the largest migration in history. Hundreds of millions decide to leave the countryside to look for jobs in cities every year. But once they leave their hometowns, migrants lose their rights to welfare coverage and are subjected to discriminatory policies, including restrictions on jobs, housing and education. Analysts say that an overhaul of the household registration system - or hukou - which links citizens to their place of origin, is a key step to adjust social inequality.

Economic statistics

National GDP growth in 2012: 7.8%
Per Capita GDP: $6,091 US, ranked 90th in the world (World Bank)
Unemployment: 4%
Social Unrest: Tsinghua Professor Sun Liping estimated 180,000 mass incidents in 2010

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Cranksy from: USA
November 09, 2013 2:15 PM
Please, Chinese citizens and Chinese emigrants, comment on this article. To me it makes the relationship between the government and economy in China seem organized and thoughtful. Ordinarily to Americans, China is seen to lack freedom.
In Response

by: Don'tBuyMadeInChina from: China
November 21, 2013 3:36 AM
To Cranksy: It's true that there are several US based websites we can access from China, but if they publish anything against China then it gets blocked. I use a VPN though so I can access any site I want.
In Response

by: Cranksy from: USA
November 12, 2013 2:37 AM
To Don'tBuyMadeinChina: I would add to your list of allegations the Chinese workers who commit suicide because of extreme working conditions at their workplace. If you accessed VOA online while in China, isn't that a counterexample to China's suppression of free speech?
In Response

by: chris from: china
November 11, 2013 10:54 PM
please.... people .. don't care about what they said.. but to see what they are going to do ..... everyone can "plan and describe" a good future to you, but only what they do matters our real lives....
In Response

by: Don'tBuyMadeInChina from: China
November 11, 2013 5:21 AM
I have have visited China on several occasions, and now I have been living here for over a year. The understanding we Americans have that China lacks freedom is accurate. If anything, Americans don't understand how severe the problem truly is in China. The Chinese government is known to perform forced abortions, torture Falun Gang members (this includes killing them for organ harvest), suppression of free speech, religious persecution, extreme control over the everyday lives of the people of China, and the occupation and persecution of Tibet. The Chinese have been just a curl to the Tibetans as the Japanese were to the Chinese during WW2. I believe if the American people truly understood how curl Communist China is to their own people, Americans would not buy anything made in China ever again. It's time for Americans to wake up to the truth and stop buying made in China!!!
In Response

by: Cranksy from: USA
November 10, 2013 11:57 PM

Hi Clove, I glad to learn the you are feeling good about the improvement in your country with the implicit hope that the future will be even better. Do you think the VOA article is a good description of China's recent history and current situation? Please ask the people you know to comment about the article. I not sure you should want to be just the same as Americans in all respects.
In Response

by: Clove from: Bejing
November 10, 2013 10:07 AM
Hi, I am from Beijing. I'd glad to see that some people in the US are intereated in China. Yes, it may seem to lack freedom, but not that bad. Things in China are beciming better and better, and everything here is much better than before. I love my country. And I hope people around the world shall have a better understanding about China. We Chinese are just the same as you Americans. Hope you can be in China to see what really going on here.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs