Cape Town - Future economic ties between South Africa and China will be based on even more in-depth co-operation, according to Gu Hailiang, deputy chair of the State Committee of Social Science of the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China.
"I am optimistic about the two way trade between South Africa and China," he said at the third annual China-Africa Dialogue on Tuesday. It was presented in partnership with the HSRC (Human Sciences Research Council).
He provided a closer look at China's 13th 5-year plan, which will be implemented in March this year.
It includes the concept of establishing a "moderately prosperous society" on social and economic levels.
China's gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has grown, for instance, from $300 in 1984 to $800 in 1990 and $1 000, despite many people questioning whether this would be possible, Gu pointed out.
"The living standards of the Chinese people have been upgraded tremendously since the first 5-year plan was implemented in 1984," said Gu.
He emphasised that China also wants to contribute to the world.
"We will overcome challenges and be an example to other developing countries," he added. "We want to overcome what we call the 'middle income trap'. We put a lot of effort into addressing employment and health care, for instance."
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Income distribution is also a very important aspect of the plan.
"China faces severe problems of economic imbalances between regions, between urban and rural areas and between industry and agriculture. We want to address these over the next 5 years too," said Gu.
Innovation is one of the main focus areas of the 13th 5-year plan. The aim is to use reforms and science and technology to meet the country's needs. The development of talent is an important component of this focus area.
Another key focus area of the plan is coordination to find an economic balance, for instance, between the Eastern and Western regions of the country, between wealthier and poorer areas - including those inhabited by ethnic minorities - and between urban and agricultural areas.
Sustainability and environmental aspects form another key focus area of the plan.
The fourth key aspect of the plan is to open up China's economy more and the fifth is sharing and co-building in order to provide jobs for the millions of Chinese who join the job market every year.
"At the end of this 5-year plan we will be able to announce to the world that we succeeded in having no-one in poverty," said Gu.
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The plan, therefore, introduces the concept of the "new normal", which a move away from a high growth rate to the maintenance of a medium high rate of 7%, which Gu pointed out is indeed high for many countries.
An important aspect of the "new normal" concept is the upgrade of the country's industrial structure and the application of advanced production and technology methods.
"We must combine and reinforce industrialisation, the application of information technology, agriculture and urbanisation in order to create a healthy and sound social structure," said Gu.
"By the second half of 2016 we would have set the foundation for achieving the goals of the new 5-year plan and reach the Chinese dream. China is a large and complex country and there are more than 300 matters we want to address using the plan."
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