The final part of our look at the Year of the Rooster focuses on the everyday challenges faced by the people of China:
Improving the people’s well-being
Following decades of hyper-paced economic expansion, the Chinese government is increasingly focused on addressing the escalating economic consequences produced by the old growth model’s dependence on heavy industry and tilting its policy priorities more towards improving people’s well-being and creating a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable development pattern. The momentum behind putting Chinese citizens’ overall quality of life at the heart of policymaking gathered greater speed and impetus in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) and extending the benefits of China’s extraordinary growth story to a much larger proportion of the population is expected to be a dominant theme in the Year of the Rooster and throughout the remainder of the current planning timeframe. Notably the government is continuing to integrate assessments of progress on poverty relief efforts as an important standard in evaluating cadres’ performances and determining their prospects for advancement.
Tackling environmental degradation
Improving environmental conditions is another major policy priority aimed at raising people’s overall quality of life. As public concerns over living environments have mounted in recent years, the Chinese leadership has strengthened its efforts aimed at addressing the widespread ecological degradation that has resulted from decades of heavy industry-led growth, such as high levels of water pollution and the severe smog that afflicts many major cities, particularly those in northeastern China.
This winter, the heavy smog that once again repeatedly descended over much of the northeast further reiterated the urgent need of mitigating such dire environmental consequences. However, after officially declaring the country’s “war on pollution” two years ago, the government is now seeking to scale back public expectations about the rapidity with which air pollution will be cleaned up, emphasizing that it will be a long-term effort while also highlighting the progress already achieved.
Overall, China’s moves to tackle environmental issues remain broadly positive and signal a healthy recognition of the need to pursue a more sustainable development model. For example, the country has already emerged as the global leader in clean energy, having invested over US$100 billion into its renewable energy and related sectors last year, more than twice that of the U.S. Looking ahead, China recently announced its plans to invest 2.5 trillion yuan (US$361) in renewable power generation by 2020, forming a pillar of its pivot away from coal towards clean energy. In light of President Trump’s pledges to revitalize the American coal industry, China may well continue to widen the clean-energy gap with the U.S. this year. However, achieving dramatic improvements to China’s domestic environment will ultimately require many years of sustained effort.
By Benjamin Cooper & Philippe Healey
H+K’s dedicated Government & Public Affairs (GPA) practice offers a wide range of services, including strategic counsel, stakeholder engagement monitoring and analysis services to a range of national and international leading companies.
 “China takes global lead in clean energy: report,” The South China Morning Post, 07 January 2017.