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Brief #132: Politburo meeting: 2023 economic policy

The Politburo met on Tuesday (December 6) to discuss economic policy and anti-corruption work for 2023. See below for a translation of the meeting readout.

Economic policy

The December Politburo meeting of each year usually sets the tone for the annual Central Economic Work Conference (中央经济工作会议), a three-day gathering of China’s senior economic policymakers. The conference is held in early or mid-December every year, so it should be underway in a few days if it has not already started.

Started in 1994, the annual Central Economic Work Conference is China’s most authoritative economic policy conference. It is attended by all members of the Politburo Standing Committee and senior economic policymakers from across the country, including those from the central and provincial party and state organs, the military, and state-owned enterprises.

On economic policy, three things stood out from the Politburo meeting. The first is the persistence of the central principle for economic policy-making: “pursuing progress while ensuring stability” (稳中求进). Every annual Central Economic Work Conference since 2013 has adopted this formula, and yet conditions are very different between 2013 and 2022. It begs the question of whether this formula has any substance beyond emphasising the importance of economic stability.

Second, the Politburo called for “vigorously boosting market confidence” (大力提振市场信心). The 2021 Central Economic Work Conference called for “boosting the confidence of market participants” (要提振市场主体信心) through microeconomic policies. The difference in wording seems significant in that the latest formulation underlines the low investor and consumer confidence in the Chinese economy and signals possible policy actions to address it.

Third, the Politburo emphasised, “the importance of the Party's comprehensive leadership of economic work” (党对经济工作的全面领导). These words were not present in the readout of the 2021 Central Economic Work Conference. They signal a willingness by the leadership to increase state intervention in the economy at a time of domestic and global uncertainty.

Integrity and anti-corruption

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