Those of us who attended grade school in the 1960s will remember hearing of China’s 5-year plans. Some of us (including Yours Truly) thought those 5-year plans for China’s “leaps forward” went the way of Mao Tse-tung. Not so. In late October 2015, China’s Premier Li Kequiang announced the nation’s 13th 5-year plan.
The plan is for China’s third industrial revolution, heavily based on information technology. While China expanded its economic growth to huge quantities, the Premier now seeks to transition from quantity to quality of growth. Two symbols of China’s third industrial revolution are “Jack Ma” and his “Alibaba Group,” an e-commerce company with several successful internet-based businesses. Alibaba’s description of itself is accessible on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TeamAlibaba
This noticeably higher quality of growth is supposed to come from:
– Evaluating the country’s local, regional and national authorities on their “green” achievements;
– Releasing significant amounts of credit into its economy;
– Linking manufacturing and the country’s infrastructure through “Internet Plus” or the “Internet of Things”;
– Wise recycled or circular use of waste; and
– Lessening urban concentration.
Why would China seemingly suddenly be interested in environmentally friendly “green” accomplishments, recycling and all the rest of it? It’s supposedly because China’s well-being is now intimately entangled with the well-being of other countries: in order for China to thrive economically and otherwise, other major countries must also thrive in the same ways.
One of the plan’s trickiest aspects will be China’s information technology transformation. While the government seeks to control the internet, it also seeks to make it “Internet Plus.” As one expert put it: “How can you have an ‘internet minus’ and an ‘internet plus?’” The extent of China’s “internet plus” will apparently depend on its ability to balance its desire for control and “purity” on the internet with its desire for an “internet plus.”
Despite barriers to the plan’s success, several entrepreneurs have strong confidence in China’s ability to move into its third industrial revolution. According to Reid Hoffman, cofounder of LinkedIn and a renowned venture capitalist, Chinese start-ups have a distinct advantage over startups by our Silicon Valley because “they work much harder and will do anything to win.”
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