In China and abroad, all eyes are on November’s Third Plenum of the 18th Party Congress—a meeting that many observers expect will be a landmark event in China’s economic reforms. Propelled by widespread expectations of meaningful policy change, President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have made bold public statements that appear to demonstrate a renewed commitment to much-needed reforms—reining in corruption and curtailing the power of state-owned enterprises, addressing pervasive environmental problems, encouraging increased domestic consumption and promoting innovation across the economy.
However, many of these policy goals continue to face fierce resistance from entrenched institutional interests, or are taking a back seat to political aims. Various anti-corruption measures bear a striking resemblance to past political crackdowns, and efforts to promote urbanization could perpetuate a misallocation of capital to the industrial sector and inhibit much-needed change. All the while, major new measures like the recently announced Shanghai Free Trade Zone have not been fully embraced by all senior officials.
On October 31, the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution addressed these looming issues. How deep is the commitment to renewed reform? What are the factors limiting meaningful change? What political considerations are shaping these policy deliberations? The upcoming Communist Party of China (CPC) Third Plenum will provide important clues to these issues and to China’s future policy directions.
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