As China has grown increasingly commercial, the plans have grown less important to some parts of the economy. Still, they help set priorities, especially in areas like energy policy and big infrastructure projects where the state dominates investments.
Mr. Xi has shown how important these plans are to him by taking over the drafting process, a job traditionally left to the premier. Earlier this month, the party released rules that tighten Mr. Xi’s power to set the policy agenda. The rules appeared designed to prevent dissension over issues like the direction of the economy, said Holly Snape, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Glasgow who studies Chinese politics.
“This goes right to the heart of how the next five years will pan out,” she said by email.
The Central Committee meeting also discussed China’s goals for modernization by 2035. Some analysts have interpreted that date as a sign of how long Mr. Xi intends to remain in power, having removed the limits on his terms as top leader.
Ms. Snape noted, however, that such long-term goals are not unprecedented: party officials approved a long-term plan in 1995, when Jiang Zemin was in charge, setting goals up to 2010. Mr. Jiang stepped down from his last formal post in 2004.
The International outlook
Meetings like the ones this week are not a time when leaders typically issue detailed pronouncements on international affairs. So it was no surprise that the leaders did not comment on the United States election or other topics beyond China’s borders.
Still, the plans depend on their assessment of the international outlook, which they summed up in opaque phrases. The latest emphasized the risks from rising uncertainty, echoing Mr. Xi’s recent warnings that “the world has entered a period of turbulence and transformation.”
“Currently the world is experiencing a major transformation of the kind not seen for a century,” the Central Committee said. “The balance of international forces is undergoing profound adjustment.”
It warned: “Instability and uncertainty have clearly increased.”
Amber Wang contributed research in Beijing.