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SPF China Observer


No.43 2023/04/07

The 2022 Chinese Economy and Key Issues for 2023 Economic Policy

Osamu Tanaka (Visiting Professor, Takushoku University Graduate School of Economics)


The National People’s Congress will soon be held in China. This article reviews the major economic indices for 2022, confirms the characteristics of the Chinese economy during 2022, and organizes the priority issues for 2023 economic policy based on Xi Jinping’s important speech at the December 2022 Central Economic Work Conference.

1.The Economy in 2022

(1) Gross domestic product (GDP)

The GDP in 2022 was 121,020.7 billion yuan according to preliminary figures released in January 2023, with a low real growth rate of 3.0%, which was far below the annual target of 5.5%.

Looking at the growth rate by quarter, the GDP growth rate was 4.8% in January–March, 0.4% in April–June, 3.9% in July–September, and 2.9% in October–December (as of the time of announcement in January 2023; the following growth rates by quarter are as of that same point in time).

However, these figures are versus the same quarter of the previous year, and this differs from the calculation method used in Europe, the U.S., Japan, and other industrialized nations. In the industrialized nations, the October–December 2022 growth rate is calculated compared to the previous quarter, July–September 2022. Because this shows growth versus the previous quarter, it is called the quarter-on-quarter growth rate which is the growth rate over a period of three months, and the values are extremely small. For that reason, this rate is usually announced after being multiplied by four and converted to an annualized growth rate.

In contrast, in China, the October–December 2022 growth rate is calculated compared to October–December 2021, that is, one year prior. Because this is the growth rate since the same period of the previous year, it is called the year-on-year growth rate. The year-on-year growth rate is greatly affected by the conditions of the economy during the prior year.

For example, the year-on-year growth rate in January–March 2021 was extremely high at 18.7%, but this is because COVID-19 was spreading in January–March 2020 and the economy was greatly depressed, so the base for the comparison was extremely low.

Conversely, the year-on-year growth rate in October–December 2021 was a low 4.3%. This is not because the economy in the October–December 2021 quarter worsened compared to the January–March 2021 quarter. Rather, it is because the economy in the October–December 2020 quarter had greatly recovered, and so the base for the comparison was high.

In this way, because the year-on-year growth rate is greatly affected by the economic conditions of the previous year, it is difficult to accurately judge whether the economy is presently favorable, or trending downward, or flat based on the figure. For that reason, the industrialized nations use the quarter-on-quarter growth rate, which is a comparison versus the previous quarter.

Because of strong requests from the industrialized nations for calculation of quarter-on-quarter figures as well, the National Bureau of Statistics of China announces quarter-on-quarter figures as estimated values when it announces its year-on-year growth rate figures each quarter. According to those figures, the 2022 quarter-on-quarter growth rates were 1.3% in January–March, minus 2.4% in April–June, 3.9% in July–September, and 0.0% in October–December. When these are multiplied by four, they become annualized figures, but based on this calculation, the April–June annualized growth rate would be around minus 9.6%, which greatly diverges from the 0.4% figure announced by the National Bureau of Statistics. However, these are only estimated values, and they are revised retroactively every three months. For example, the 2022 quarter-on-quarter growth rates announced in October 2022 were 1.6% in January–March, minus 2.7% in April–June, and 3.9% in July–September. It is common for the figures to be revised upward or downward by around 0.1 percentage points, and when these are multiplied by four the error in the annualized rate becomes still larger.

In 2022, there was a resurgence of COVID-19 in Shanghai and elsewhere from March, and because Shanghai was locked down from the end of March through the end of May, the economy was greatly depressed during the April–June quarter. In the July–September quarter, the spread of infection eased, and the resumption of business and production steadily advanced, so the economy rapidly recovered.

However, there was another resurgence of COVID-19 from October. Because regional governments responded with a policy for the complete containment of COVID-19 (the so-called zero-COVID policy), in response, protests broke out among the citizens in November, and from November the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) suddenly eased the zero-COVID policy to calm citizens’ discontent. Consequently, the number of COVID-19 patients rapidly increased, and the economy and society fell into disorder. As a result, the economy slumped once again in the October–December quarter. Because of these developments, the 2022 quarter-to-quarter growth rates moved sharply up and down.

(2) Points to consider regarding the 2022 growth rate

However, the 2022 growth rate of 3% seems a little unnatural.

On May 25, 2022, Premier Li Keqiang held the National Teleconference on Stabilizing “Economic Fundamentals” with 100,000 participants. Regarding the current economic conditions, Li said “The difficulties in March, and since April in particular, are in some respects and to a certain extent greater than those experienced in 2020 when the COVID-19 epidemic hit the country, marked by downward indicators for employment, industrial production, power consumption, and cargo transportation, among others.”

In 2020, when the spread of COVID-19 subsided, the economy steadily recovered and the year-on-year growth rate successfully increased, posting minus 6.9% in January–March, 3.1% in April–June, 4.8% in July–September, and 6.4% in October–December. But the economic growth rate was just 2.2%.

In 2022, however, even though socioeconomic conditions fell into confusion twice (in the April–June quarter and in the October–December quarter), the growth rate reached 3%. This just does not make sense.

Premier Li Keqiang held a symposium with foreign experts working in China on January 18, 2023. Because the National Bureau of Statistics had announced the major economic indices for 2022 the previous day on January 17, Premier Li gave explanations using specific figures for the annual number of newly employed people, the surveyed urban unemployment rate in December, and the annual consumer price increase rate. Regarding the economic growth rate, however, he only said that during the year the economy achieved rational growth and did not mention the 3% figure. Thereafter, at the plenary meeting of the State Council held on February 3, the seminar with grassroots organization representatives and people from all walks of life held on February 6, and the symposium with persons of influence without party affiliation held on February 13 as well, Premier Li presented statistics on employment and commodity prices, but regarding the economic growth rate he only stated the average for the past five years and the average for the past ten years, and did not mention the 2022 growth rate.

China’s annual growth rate is released in January of the subsequent year, but those figures are sometimes suddenly revised in December of that year. For example, the 2020 growth rate was revised from 2.3% to 2.2%, and the 2021 growth rate was revised from 8.1% to 8.4%. There is a good chance that the 2022 growth rate will be revised down in December 2023. However, at the above-mentioned symposium with foreign experts, Premier Li said that the 2022 growth rate was higher than the 2020 growth rate, so even if it is revised, it will probably be between 2.3% and 2.9%

(3) Contribution to the growth rate by industry and demand component

Looking at the GDP composition by industry, as of the time of the January 2023 announcement, the figures were 7.3% for primary industry, 39.9% for secondary industry, and 52.8% for tertiary industry. The weight of tertiary industry declined by 0.7 percentage points from 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (these figures are as of the time of the January 2023 announcement; the same hereafter). The contributions to the growth rate were 10.5% for primary industry (a contribution of 0.3 percentage points), 47.7% for secondary industry (1.4 percentage points), and 41.8% for tertiary industry (1.3 percentage points). The contribution of tertiary industry declined by 12.9 percentage points from 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, so in 2022 the growth was led by secondary industry.

Also, looking at the contributions to the growth rate by demand component, the figures were 32.8% for final consumption (a contribution of 1.0 percentage points), 50.1% for capital formation (investment) (1.5 percentage points), and 17.1% for net exports (exports minus imports; 0.5 percentage points). The contribution from consumption declined by 25.5 percentage points from 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, so in 2022 the growth was led by investment.

Now, I would like to take a look at the trends of each demand component.

  1. (i) Consumption
    Total retail sales were 43,973.3 billion yuan in 2022, a decline of 0.2% versus the previous year. Consumption, which had increased by 12.5% in 2021, turned negative again as a result of the resurgence of COVID-19 and the strict zero-COVID policy. Income of the catering industry in 2022 declined 6.3% from the previous year, and was down a large 14.1% from the same month of the previous year in December.
    Retail sales of motor vehicles increased by 0.7% year-on-year, slowing from the 7.6% increase recorded in 2021. This was reflected in industrial production, and the number of motor vehicles produced rose 3.4% in 2022, a slowdown from the 4.8% growth in 2021. However, the production of new energy vehicles rose 97.5% and contributed to the recovery in industrial production.
    In consumption, what should be noted is the nationwide online retail sales of products and services (e-commerce), which reached 13,785.3 billion yuan, up by 4.0%over the previous year. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the weight of e-commerce in the retail sales of physical goods rose to 27.2% from 24.5% in 2021.
  2. (ii) Investment
    Investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) was 57,213.8 billion yuan in 2022, up 5.1% from the previous year and accelerating from the 4.9% increase in 2021.
    Of this, investment in infrastructure increased 9.4%, a large rise from the 0.4% increase in 2021. This is because the Ministry of Finance greatly accelerated the issuance of local government special-purpose bonds, secured funds for local infrastructure investment, and advanced the start of new construction projects. On the other hand, manufacturing investment increased 9.1%, a decline from the 13.5% increase in 2021.
    The investment in real estate development was 13,289.5 billion yuan in 2022, down by 10.0% year-on-year and turning negative following the 4.4% increase in 2021. This is believed to be because of the impact of the turmoil in the real estate market that continued from the second half of 2021. The floor space of commercial buildings sold, which is a yardstick for real estate market conditions, turned from an increase to a decline in January and February and declined 24.3% year-on-year in 2022 (compared with an increase of 1.9% in 2021). Total sales of commercial buildings also turned from an increase to a decline in January and February and declined 26.7% year-on-year in 2022 (compared with an increase of 4.8% in 2021).
    Private investment in fixed assets was 31,014.5 billion yuan in 2022, up 0.9% from the previous year and slowing greatly from the 11.4% increase in January and February due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. (iii) External demand
    Total exports were $3,593.6 billion in 2022, up 7.0% from the previous year. Exports by month turned to a decline from October due to the global economic stagnation, and were down 9.9% year-on-year in December.
    Total imports were $2,716.0 billion in 2022, up 1.1% from the previous year. Imports by month turned to a decline from October due to the slump in internal demand in China, and were down 7.5% year-on-year in December.
    In this way, exports and imports both contracted from October, and the decline in exports was particularly large. In the 2.9% GDP growth rate in the October–December quarter, while final consumption contributed 0.2 percentage points and capital formation contributed 3.9 percentage points, the contribution of net exports was minus 1.2 percentage points.

(4) Implications for the 2023 economy

As shown by the sudden jump in the economic growth rate from 2.2% in 2020 to 8.4% in 2021, when the previous year’s economic performance was poor, the growth rate tends to rise greatly the following year because the base for the comparison is low. In particular, looking by quarter, because of the confusion in the economy and society in the April–June and October–December quarters of 2022, unless there is a resurgence in COVID-19 or some sudden change in internal or external conditions, it is highly likely that the year-on-year growth rates in the April-June and October-December quarters of 2023 will greatly increase.

However, this would not mean that the power of the Chinese economy increased. Rather, it would just indicate that the economy had returned to normal, and the growth rate in 2024 would greatly decline once again. To avoid such a misjudgment of economic conditions due to this statistical bias, when Premier Li released the indicators for 2021, he released the calculated average growth rates over two years since the same periods of 2019 at the same time, as references. The economic decline from COVID-19 and the subsequent recovery would cancel each other out in the average growth rates over the two years from the same periods of 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, so they can be used to discern the economic trends relatively accurately.

Consequently, regarding the growth rates of the major economic indices for 2023 as well, it will be important to look not only at the comparisons from the same periods of 2022, but also at the quarter-on-quarter figures and the averages over the two years from the same periods of 2021, when the economy was relatively stable. This was recommended by Premier Li, but because he will retire at the National People’s Congress in March, it is unclear whether his likely successor Li Qiang will have the National Bureau of Statistics publish these average growth rates over the two years from the same periods of 2021. This point demands attention when viewing the 2023 economic statistics.

2.Priority Issues in 2023 Economic Policy

An outline of several priority issues of economic policy for the present time, which was the core of an important speech presented by General Secretary Xi Jinping at the Central Economic Work Conference held December 15–16, 2022, was published in the February 15, 2023, edition of Qiushi magazine. According to this, the priority issues in 2023 economic policy are as follows.

(1) Focus on expansion of domestic demand

In the important speech, Xi said that insufficient aggregate demand is a prominent contradiction faced by economic management at present. Xi said that the country must put efforts into implementing domestic demand expansion strategies, adopt more effective measures, and realize a virtuous cycle through the reproduction of society. The issues and specific policies are as follows.

  1. (i) Prioritize the recovery and expansion of consumption
    Increase urban and rural personal income, and in particular boost the purchasing power of people with middle and low incomes who have been greatly impacted by COVID-19 even though they have a high propensity to consume.
    Rationally increase consumer loans to support people in improving their housing situation, as well as in the consumption of new energy vehicles, elderly nursing services, education, medical treatment, culture, sports, etc.
  2. (ii) Effectively lead society-wide investment through government investment and policy incentives
    Because private investment is insufficient at present, first have government investment solidly demonstrate the role of inducing private investment. Specifically, accelerate major projects under the 14th Five-Year Plan and strengthen transport, energy, water supply, agriculture, information, and other infrastructure construction.
    Support the construction of modernized infrastructure systems in super-large and mega cities (city clusters) and urban areas, and implement urban renewal and rural construction.
    Increase science and technology and industry investment and expedite the development of important science and technology infrastructure and of research and development capabilities for key or core technologies.
    Have policy-oriented financial institutions reinforce financing assistance to major projects in line with the direction of national development plans and industrial policy.
    Ease the conditions for private investment market access and encourage and absorb still more private capital for participation in the construction of major national projects and projects to shore up weaknesses.

(2) Accelerate building a modernized industrial system

Xi said that China has the world’s most complete industrial system and a domestic demand market with the largest potential, and that the country must steadily enhance the resilience and safety levels of the industrial chain and supply chain and firmly work to shore up areas of weakness and cultivate strengths. The issues and specific policies are as follows.

  1. (i) Ensure the smoothness of the national economic cycle
    Make efforts to boost food, energy, and resource security, and in particular, steadfastly secure food.
    Initiate a new round of efforts to increase food production capacity, allocate arable land and science and technology toward increasing production capacity, and allocate national land resources toward food.
    Increase domestic exploration, development, and stockpiling of important energy and mineral resources, strengthen the increase of production, accelerate the planning and construction of new types of energy systems, and accelerate the diversification of imports while increasing the stockpiling capacity of national strategic materials.
  2. (ii) Upgrade the industrial system and accelerate the realization of development
    Reinforce the position as the leader of industries in which China traditionally has advantages and also create new competitive advantages.
    Regarding traditional manufacturing industries, accelerate digital transformation, promote the application of advanced, practical technologies, and work to make these more high-end, smarter, and greener.
    Regarding strategic emerging industries, accelerate research and development, commercialization, and the spread of cutting-edge technologies including new energy, AI, biomanufacturing, green and low carbon, quantum computing, etc., and support the development of specialized, precision, distinctive, and innovative enterprises.
    Put efforts into the development of the digital economy and boost the level of regular oversight and management.
    Support platform enterprises in leading development, as well as in job creation and international competition so they can fully manifest their abilities.

(3) Steadily implement the “two unswerving” policies

In the important speech, Xi said there have been some incorrect or even erroneous opinions in society for some time regarding whether China is still a socialist market economy and still maintains the “two unswerving” policies. He took a firm tone, stating that the country must be clear and unambiguous in its stance, always maintain the direction of socialist market economic reform, and uphold the “two unswerving” policies.

The “two unswerving” policies are 1) to unswervingly consolidate and develop the public sector, and 2) to unswervingly encourage, support, and guide the non-public sector. This was originally decided at the 16th CPC National Congress in 2002. Here, “the public sector” primarily refers to state-owned enterprises and “the non-public sector” primarily refers to private enterprises. The issues and specific policies are as follows.

  1. (i) Deepen the reform of state-owned capital and state-owned enterprises, and enhance the core competencies (core competitiveness) of state-owned enterprises
    First, as problems with state-owned enterprises, Xi pointed out that the scale of state-owned capital used in business is large, the return on assets of some enterprises is not high, and the ability to innovate is lacking, and he presented the following policies.
    Establish a sound management system for state-owned assets, primarily capital management, consolidate, streamline, and restructure state-owned enterprises through the market, and launch a number of state-owned enterprises strong in innovation.
    Establish modern corporate governance for China’s distinctive state-owned enterprises, manage them based on truly market-based mechanisms, and accelerate the development of world-class enterprises.
  2. (ii) Optimize the development environment for private enterprises, and promote the development and large-scale growth of private enterprises
    First, Xi positively assessed the role of the private sector, stating that the private sector plays an important role in socioeconomic development, employment, public finance and tax revenue, science and technology innovation, etc. He then presented the following policies.
    State-owned enterprises and private enterprises will be treated equally institutionally and legally, and the development and large-scale growth of the private sector and private enterprises will be encouraged and supported in both policy and public opinion.
    The property rights of private enterprises and the interests of entrepreneurs will be protected based on law.
    The laws and regulations pertaining to enterprises will be reviewed and revised, and obstacles to equal market access will continue to be removed.
    A fair competition system will be established, and there will be a crack-down on regional protectionism and government monopolies.
    Management support of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) will be strengthened, and assistance will be provided for the development of MSMEs and self-employed individuals.

(4) Make greater efforts to attract and utilize foreign investment
Xi said that China must promote high-standard opening up to the outside world, absorb global resources and elements through large domestic circulation based on the advantages of the nation’s super-large-scale market, not only retain good-quality existing foreign investment but also attract more high-quality foreign investment, and enhance the quality and level of trade and investment cooperation. The issues and specific policies are as follows.

  1. (i) Expand market entry
    Rationally reduce the foreign investment market access negative list. Strengthen the opening of the modern service industry.
    Promote lead tests of open platforms including free trade test zones, Hainan Free Trade Port, and all types of development zones and bonded areas.
  2. (ii) Optimize the business environment overall
    Firmly implement national treatment of foreign-funded companies, promote fair competition, guarantee equal participation of foreign-funded companies in government procurement, bidding, and standards setting in accordance with the law, and strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights and the legitimate rights and interests of foreign investors.
    Actively seek to join high-standard economic and trade agreements such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA), and deepen reforms in relevant domestic areas voluntarily following the relevant rules, regulations, management, and standards.
  3. (iii) Precisely and solidly provide service to foreign-funded companies
    Strengthen smooth exchange with foreign-funded companies and provide maximum convenience for them to engage in trade, investment, and negotiations in China.
    Have the officials in charge of the economy and trade regularly work overseas to attract enterprises and introduce foreign investment.

(5) Effectively prevent and resolve serious economic and financial risks

To solidly defend the minimum line to prevent the occurrence of systemic risk, the issues and specific policies are as follows.

  1. (i) Prevent the inducement of systemic risk from the real estate industry
    Xi recognized that the greatest risk is presently real estate risk, stating that the real estate industry has a grave impact on economic growth, employment, public finance and tax revenue, personal assets, and financial stability. For that reason, accurately dealing with the relation between the prevention of systemic risk and moral hazard, firmly implementing the various policies to address risk, and ensuring the steady and healthy development of the real estate market are the most important issues for risk countermeasures. The specific policies are as follows.
    Formulate measures in accordance with the urban conditions, make efforts to improve future projections, expand effective demand, and support hard housing demand and improvement housing demand.
    Support the implementation of childbirth policies and human resources policies, and solidly resolve the housing problems of new urban residents (rural migrant workers and their families who have moved from rural areas to urban areas), young people, etc.
    Encourage regional governments and financial institutions to increase the supply of rental housing with a social security function (for low-income earners), and explore the development of the long-term housing rental market.
    Adhere to the positioning that “housing is for living in, not for speculation,” deeply examine and judge important trending and structural changes such as the supply-demand relation of the real estate market and the urbanization structure, immediately examine middle to long-term fundamental countermeasures, eliminate the harms of the long-established high-debt, high-leverage, quick-turnover development model, and promote a smooth transition to a new development model for the real estate industry.
  2. (ii) Prevent and resolve financial risks
    Solidly prevent both grave financial risks and moral hazard, and prevent the formation of regional and systemic financial risks.
    Strengthen the centralized and unified guidance on financial policy and administration from the CPC Central Committee, and deepen financial system reform.
  3. (iii) Prevent and resolve local government debt risk
    Strengthen the processing of hidden debts that already exist, optimize the maturity structure of debts, decrease the interest-rate burden, steadily advance the integration of the oversight and management of the hidden and statutory debts of local governments, resolutely stop the increase of new debts, and resolve existing debts.
    Prohibit borrowings in all types of changed forms, and prevent the “platforming” of local state-owned enterprises and public utilities.
    Strengthen the comprehensive governance of financing platform enterprises, and promote categorized transition.
    Deepen the reforms of public finance and tax systems, prepare a framework for central government transfer payments, prepare a sound financial system for provincial and local administrative bodies, and steadily advance the establishment of local tax systems.

(6) Others

The following were listed as other important policies for 2023.

  1. (i) Comprehensively advance the development of rural areas, stabilize food production, resolutely prevent people from relapsing into poverty on a large scale, and facilitate the flow and circulation of urban and rural elements.
  2. (ii) Promote high-standard opening-up centered on building a high-standard socialist market economy system, and plan the overall deepening of new reforms.
  3. (iii) Hold the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and promote high-quality development of joint Belt and Road construction.
  4. (iv) Thoroughly implement major regional strategies and coordinated development strategies, mutually complement advantages, and develop respective strengths.
  5. (v) Promote the green transformation of socioeconomic development, jointly advance carbon emissions reductions, pollutant emissions reductions, green expansion, and economic growth, switch from a system of controlling the total volume and intensity (consumption per unit GDP) of energy consumption to a system of controlling the total volume and intensity (emissions per unit GDP) of carbon emissions, and steadfastly keep China’s skies blue, waters clear, and lands clean.


Finally, I would like to point out several items to note regarding this important speech.

First, it is believed that the important speech that was released is not the entire text.

Regarding the real estate risk in section (5) of the priority issues above, there was a comment at the Central Economic Work Conference that various housing delivery guarantee, people’s livelihood guarantee, and stability guarantee policies must be steadily and solidly implemented, the reasonable financing demand of the real estate industry satisfied, reorganization and M&A in the real estate industry promoted, the risks of superior top enterprises effectively forestalled and diffused, and their debt-to-asset ratio improved, but this is omitted from the important speech that was released. From this, it can be inferred that the important speech that was published in Qiushi in February is not the complete text, but rather an outline.

Secondly, it is thought that the greatest objectives of this important speech were to reconfirm that there have been no changes in the existing principle of reform and opening-up or in the main policies of reforms toward improvement of the socialist market economy system, high-level opening-up, and support of the development of private enterprises.

In the autumn of 2020, the CPC Central Committee stressed promotion of common prosperity and prevention of the disorderly expansion of capital, and in 2021 harsh policies on private enterprises and the wealthy segment were launched one after another with a crackdown on the monopolies and misconduct of leading private platform enterprises, prosecution of tax evasion in the entertainment industry, and demands on leading private platform enterprises and their managers for large donations to charities. This led domestic and foreign parties to question the continuation of not only support for the development of private enterprise but also of the reform and opening-up policy itself.

In particular, at the 20th CPC National Congress in 2022, Xi Jinping’s one-man rule was reinforced, and it was decided that leading reformers such as Li Keqiang, Wang Yang, and Liu He would retire from the CPC Central Committee, and concerns regarding a move toward the left in economic policy grew stronger and stronger. It seems that to eliminate those concerns, the supreme leader General Secretary Xi Jinping himself had to clearly state that China is maintaining its reform and opening-up and other existing policies.

In priority issue (3) Xi clearly stated that China will certainly implement “the two unswerving” policies, encourage and support the development and large-scale growth of the private sector and private enterprises, and protect the property rights of private enterprises and the interests of entrepreneurs. And in priority issue (4), Xi promised equal participation for foreign-funded companies in government procurement, bidding, and standards setting and the protection of intellectual property and of foreign investors’ legitimate interests. Regarding the purpose of joining the CPTPP as well, it was emphasized that this is solely a deepening of domestic reforms. Also, plans for the overall deepening of new reforms were presented in the other items listed in (6). If the overall deepening of new reforms is examined, this will be the first time in 10 years since the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in 2013.

Third, what will be noteworthy from now is the third plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Committee expected to be held in the autumn of 2023.

When new leadership takes over at the CPC National Congress, typically the third plenary session of the CPC Central Committee is held in the autumn of the following year and the basic direction of the new leadership’s economic policy is determined. The CPC Central Committee was not held in the autumn of 2018, but this time there were major changes in the leadership starting with the premier, so it is highly likely that a third plenary session of the CPC Central Committee will be held in the autumn to clarify the basic direction of the economic policy of the new leadership.

At the 20th CPC National Congress and the Central Economic Work Conference in 2022, there were repeated statements that the reform and opening-up principle to date will be firmly maintained, but the contents of decisions up until that time are thought to have reflected the intentions of Li Keqiang and Liu He. The government activities report at the National People’s Congress that is about to take place will be the last report under Premier Li Keqiang, so fundamentally, firmly maintaining reform and opening-up will likely be emphasized.

However, the decisions of the third plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Committee, which will be led by the new leadership, have the power to partially override these existing policies. Whether the plan for the overall deepening of new reforms mentioned in the important speech will be decided there or entirely different themes will be presented continues to demand careful monitoring.

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