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As many countries struggle to plan weeks ahead, China just set its agenda for the next 15 years

Hong Kong (CNN)The coronavirus pandemic has left governments in disarray and made planning even weeks ahead difficult. In Beijing this week, however, China's leaders met to set specific policy for much of the coming decade.

In a series of closed-door meetings in the capital, top Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials hashed out the country's next five-year plan -- and even drew up a "vision" for 2035, a long-term proposal for the year which President Xi Jinping has set as a deadline for China to "basically achieve socialist modernization."

Whatever is agreed at the plenum, by a tiny cohort of leaders, will shape policy for the entire country of 1.3 billion people, implemented at all levels by Communist Party bureaucrats, state-controlled enterprises, and the all-powerful security state.

While full details of the fresh five-year plan may not be unveiled until China's rubber-stamp parliament meets next year, key goals that have been previewed in state media include a pivot away from GDP growth at all costs, cutting carbon emissions and achieving self-sufficiency in technology and science, amid increasing pressure from the United States on that front.

This kind of long-term planning is in contrast to the often flip-flopping nature of democracies, where promises and plans set in place by one government are vulnerable to being undone by the next -- a point often highlighted in Chinese state media to defend the legitimacy of Beijing's authoritarian system.

Few American presidents have put this into starker relief than Donald Trump, who upon taking office scrapped a major trade deal, withdrew the US from the Paris climate accord, and set about dismantling the Iran nuclear agreement, essentially reversing all the long-term policy established by the Obama administration. Read More

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