BEIJING -- Economists have high hopes China can keep GDP growth above 7 percent over the next five years, as leading officials prepare to discuss 2016-2020 development at a key political meeting.
Economic growth is high on the agenda of October's plenary session of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, which will cover the 13th Five-year Plan (2016-2020).
These five years are critical if Chinese leaders are to realize their goals of doubling 2010 GDP and per capita income and completing the building of a moderately prosperous society by 2020.
"China's potential growth can exceed 7 percent," said Tsinghua University economist Hu Angang, using the technical term for the maximum pace an economy can sustain over the medium to long term without stoking inflation.
"China set a growth target of 7 percent for the 2011-2015 period, but the de facto annual growth was 7.8 percent on average. Potential growth will be lower in the 2016-2020 period, but it should be above 7 percent. I expect the de facto annual growth to be around 7.5 percent," Hu said.
Fan Gang, an advisor to the central bank monetary policy committee, said he was confident of 7-percent growth in the long run and that more pessimistic analysts "had not taken cyclical factors such as overcapacity into account." He believes the problem of overproduction by China's industries will ease sooner rather than later.
"China is still in a relatively high growth range. The growth rate of 7 percent or above could last till 2023 backed by the three state strategies [the Belt and Road regional infrastructure and trade network, greater integration of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province, and the Yangtze River Economic Belt], deepening reform, industrial upgrading and urbanization," said Liu Wei, deputy president of Peking University.
Wang Yiming, deputy director of the Development Research Center of the State Council, predicted the economy will resist looming downward pressure thanks to emerging favorable conditions.
These include industrialization and urbanization, openings for Chinese enterprises during global economic adjustment, and increasing consumption, according to Wang.
Enormous investment opportunities lie in areas including poverty reduction, environmental protection, water conservation and urban renovation, he added.
Economists also believe official campaigns to integrate technology such as cloud computing, robots and new materials with traditional industries, and to develop the country's central and western regions will also aid growth.
However, as policymakers have accepted China entering a period of plateauing but more stable economic growth, and one of great strategic opportunities but also complicated challenges, Wang advised them to perfect macro regulation by improving fiscal and monetary policies and to be on the lookout for risks to prevent economic volatility.
The government should back reforms to create growth momentum, and stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in high-tech industries, he added.
Ba Shusong, chief economist at the China Banking Association, pointed to various issues hampering growth. As the criteria used to evaluate officials' performance change, local officials might be less motivated in wooing investment, Ba said, also citing rising labor costs as a problem.