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China's Five-Year Plan: Beijing's top leaders discuss economic strategy following COVID-19 outbreak

China's leaders are gathering behind closed doors on Monday to draw an economic plan for the next five years as the country prepares to re-boost its economy following its coronavirus outbreak.

Beijing's top decision-making body will meet for four days to map out the nation's new Five-Year Plan, the vast policy framework by which China will be governed from 2021 to 2025.

China's economy grew 4.9 per cent in the third quarter from last year, proving the country is back to its pre-pandemic trajectory with consumer spending and industrial production going back to normal levels.

Beijing's top decision-making body began its four-day meetings on Monday to map out the nation's new Five-Year Plan. Pictured, China's President Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Keqiang take part in an event marking the 70th anniversary of China's participation in the Korean War

President Xi's government has been widely condemned for its handling of coronavirus.

After initially covering up the outbreak, Beijing obscured an investigation into how it started. It also published infection rates which have been widely doubted and partly blamed the pandemic on the slow response from the West.

Since China claimed to have fought off the virus, the nation's firms have taken advantage of their good fortune while their global rivals grapple with reduced manufacturing capacity. 

These figures show the year-on-year change in GDP for some of the world's richest countries, with China's economy larger than it was a year ago while others have seen massive decline 

China's economy grew 4.9 per cent in the third quarter from last year, proving the country is back to its pre-pandemic trajectory. Pictured, employees work inside a Foxconn factory in the township of Longhua in the southern Guangdong province, southern China, on May 26

Little information has been revealed to the public about this week's meetings in Beijing, but the Communist leadership is expected to focus on key issues including the future of the nation's technology and President Xi's pledge to go carbon neutral by 2060.

The Five-Year Plan, the 14th in a series issued since the 1950s, is the foundation for government industrial plans in the heavily regulated economy.

Its broad outlines are due to be announced after the meeting ends on Thursday, but the full plan won't be released until March. Legal and regulatory changes and policy for individual industries will follow.

One major topic could be the development of semiconductors and other technology at a time when Washington is cutting off Chinese companies' access to US technology.

Chinese leaders are expected to emphasise the development of semiconductors and other technology at a time when Washington restricts Chinese firms from US technology. Pictured, visitors look at an 8K&AI television at a semiconductor expo in Shanghai on October 14

Innovation will 'drive China's manufacturing industry and push it up the global value chain while strategically ensuring domestic supply,' the official Global Times newspaper said.

'Achieving independence in key areas, such as scientific research and finance, is expected to be a focus,' the state-run tabloid added.

Top-level officials are also set to discuss Xi's ambitious carbon-neutral pledge.

The climate goals, which challenge the world's biggest polluter to reach peak emissions in 2030 and go carbon neutral 30 years later, are the most concrete environmental action announced by Beijing yet but are thin on public detail.

The carbon promise, announced last month in a speech by Xi to the United Nations, came as a surprise as China has relied heavily on coal to spur its economic emergence from poverty to superpower status over the last few decades.

In this image from UNTV video, President Xi Jinping speaks in a pre-recorded message which was played during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 22

Its Five-Year Plans are 'not designed to attract votes or score political points as is done in the West by some politicians (but) are aimed at realising the people's aspirations for a better life', said official news agency Xinhua over the weekend.

Xinhua said more than one million suggestions for the Five-Year Plan had been submitted online in August, and that input had come from universities, think tanks and other official bodies.

As the virus spread across the globe, China started to bring the outbreak under control and began to reopen its economy, growing 6.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year, and 3.2 per cent in the April-June quarter.

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