Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, speaks during the annual Central Economic Work Conference in Beijing, capital of China. The annual Central Economic Work Conference was held in Beijing from Dec 16 to 18. [Photo/Xinhua] China has laid out economic priorities for the next year, pledging to maintain the consistency, stability and sustainability of its macro policies, expand domestic demand, strengthen antimonopoly efforts and step up all-around opening up. The annual tone-setting Central Economic Work Conference, held between Wednesday and Friday in Beijing, outlined key tasks in eight aspects, including efforts to strengthen China's competitiveness in strategic science and technologies and improve industry and supply chains toward a more independent and controllable position. President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, reviewed the country's economic work in 2020, analyzed the current situation and mapped out plans for 2021 at the conference. China will continue to adopt a proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy while maintaining necessary support for the economic recovery next year, said a statement released after the meeting. Proactive fiscal policy must be implemented in a manner that is of higher quality, more effective and more sustainable, the statement said. It added that the intensity of expenditure must be maintained to bolster financial support for the nation's major strategic tasks, promote innovation in science and technology, expedite the adjustment in economic structure, readjust income distribution and defuse the risks arising from the hidden debts of local governments. Prudent monetary policy must be pursued in a more flexible, tailored and appropriate way, with steps to ensure a stable macro leverage ratio and replenish the capital of banks via multiple channels, according to the statement. Market reform of interest rates and exchange rates will be deepened, while the exchange rate of the yuan will be kept stable at a reasonable, equilibrium level. Policymakers at the meeting urged quicker steps to foster a new development paradigm with the domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. They reiterated the importance of pursuing supply-side structural reform as the main task while emphasizing the management of the demand side to unblock difficulties, strengthen weak areas and connect procedures including production, distribution and consumption. Meeting participants recounted what was "an extraordinary year" in the history of the People's Republic of China, during which the nation was faced with a challenging and complicated international landscape, arduous tasks of pursuing domestic reform, development and stability and, especially, severe shocks from COVID-19. With accurate judgment of the situation, decisive actions and strenuous efforts, China came up with a response that has won approval from the people, attention from the world and will go down in history, they said. China is set to become the only major economy that secures economic growth this year, and the country is on course to secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and make major progress in the great rejuvenation of the nation, policymakers said. Eyeing the weak areas of industries, the country will ensure better-implementation of key projects targeting breakthroughs in key technologies and solutions to bottleneck problems while encouraging businesses to focus on their areas of strength and forge new cutting-edge technologies. In boosting domestic demand, policymakers highlighted the need for effective institutional arrangements in guiding consumption, savings and investment, saying that more steps to create jobs, refine the social protection system, better the income allocation structure and expand middle-income groups are needed to bolster consumption. It is important to reinvigorate investment from the whole of society, scale up growth of the digital economy and ramp up investment in new types of infrastructure, they said, adding that a city upgrade program and the renovation of old residential communities must be moved forward. The conference stressed the necessity of building a high-level socialist market economic system, pursuing high-level opening up and enabling reform and opening-up to reinforce each other. It reiterated pledges to widen market access, promote fair competition, protect intellectual property rights and build a unified domestic market, saying that China will actively consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. To ensure China's food security, policymakers pledged to bolster the growth of the seed industry, highlighting the significance of protecting and utilizing seed resources and better developing seed reserves. To strengthen antitrust efforts and prevent the disorderly expansion of capital, the country will improve laws and regulations regarding the identification of monopolistic practices from internet platform companies and their collection, use and management of data and protection of consumer rights, they said. Innovation in the financial sector must be conducted under the premise of prudent regulatory measures, they added. The conference highlighted the need to solve prominent housing problems in major cities. While reiterating the policy stance that houses are for living in, not for speculation, policymakers pledged to place strong emphasis on the development of public rental housing programs, refine policies for long-term tenancy housing and standardize development of the rental market. More land supply will go to construction programs for rental housing, and the country will work to enable tenants to enjoy the same public services as homeowners. With China already committing to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, the conference urged quicker steps to come up with an action plan that enables the peaking of emissions. It called for accelerated efforts to better the industry and energy structures and enable the peaking of coal consumption at an early date while bolstering the development of new energy. With China set to build itself into a moderately prosperous society in all respects, the policymakers said the outcomes of poverty reduction must be consolidated and resolute efforts must be adopted to prevent people from falling back into poverty again on a large scale.