- In March 2011, the Chinese government released its Twelfth Five-Year Programme for Economic and Social Development (12FYP). The 12FYP sets out the government’s intentions across a broad spectrum of development policy issues up to and including 2015.
- The 12FYP is far more than a propaganda exercise, and should be taken seriously by all interested parties outside China. It offers unambiguous guidance to foreign governments and to the EU about China’s strategic priorities.
- Close reading of the 12FYP reveals scope for enhanced engagement, through dialogue and other means, on important issues of common concern and shared interest, including education, scientific and technological cooperation, energy saving and environmental enhancement. There is also considerable potential for collaboration on commercial and research projects. Taken as a whole, the 12FYP is a signpost to opportunities in which cooperation between China and the EU can be strengthened.
- During the period of the 12FYP, China’s development trajectory will be shaped more by domestic forces than by external drivers. This is partly attributable to the impact of the global financial crisis. But it also reflects the Chinese government's determination to rebalance the economy by making domestic consumption a more potent growth driver. There will, however, be no decoupling from the global economy, in which China will continue to play an active role.
- Both China's 12FYP and EU2020 prioritise 'sustainable' and 'inclusive' growth. Under these broad headings, there are many areas – for example, science and technology, innovation, education, energy conservation and climate change – in which the pursuit of common goals should be translated into enhanced cooperation.