In a thee-minute video posted to the Twitter account of state-run news agency Xinhua, the country’s latest Five-Year Plan is introduced to the inescapable patter of tambourines and ukuleles.
Wanna know what China’s gonna do? Best pay attention to the 十三五! See why it matters https://t.co/SgBls5S35A
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) October 27, 2015
As a Volkswagen Type 2 camper van slides through a nightmarish landscape of light bulb people, a David Bowie impersonator waxes lyrical about “President Xi Jinping’s new style” and the pivotal role played by “engineers who deal with poo” in the formulation of the thirteenth Five-Year Plan (“shisanwu” in Putonghua—or “shisan-oooo” in the video).
Developed from the Soviet model, Five-Year Plans have played a leading role in mapping strategies for China’s economic development and setting growth targets since the first plan was launched in 1953-57.
The Communist Party’s Second Five-Year Plan, in effect from 1958 to 1962, set in force the Great Leap Forward, a disastrous attempt to rapidly industrialise and collectivise the economy and match US industrial output within a few years. The plan’s failure led to the Great Chinese Famine, responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese.
In an ongoing effort to deflect responsibility for the catastrophe, the Party still refers to the man-made famine as the “Three Years of Natural Disasters.”
Since 2006, the Five-Year Plans have become known in Chinese as “guidelines” rather than “plans,” reflecting the country’s shift from a Soviet-style command economy to one driven by “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”