China is to place its focus on economic transformation and upgrading as part of its new five-year plan, with a move from "quantity" of growth to "quality”, the government has said. 

Premier Li Keqiang, speaking at the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), this week revealed some details of the country's 13th growth plan, set to be unveiled next March.

He told attendees the foundations had now been laid following five years during which China's national strength had “significantly improved,” turning it into a US$10trn economy where the urban population exceeds rural areas, the service sector is now the country's largest, alongside “comprehensive” social progress.

The improvements, Li said, were in the face of a particularly “complex” domestic and international environment this year.

He said the CPPCC had put forward a number of recommendations for the new plan, including “enhancing the development of innovation and momentum to promote structural reforms”, guaranteeing the development of sustainability, structural optimisation, encouraging public entrepreneurship, “vigorously” developing modern agriculture, expanding the supply of public goods and services, and reducing urban-rural and regional disparities. 

The government is also looking to develop the service sector, “achieve economic development”, and promote “capacity building and international cooperation” to achieve “better integration in the world”.

Indeed, China is attempting to shift from a middle-income country to a higher-income one, while maintaining relatively high growth rates. The plan, however, coincides with anxiety over the country's economic outlook following a devaluation of the yuan in August. Figures out this week show the overall weakening of China's manufacturing industry has slowed down, suggesting the government's stimulation efforts are starting to take effect, but the country still faces challenges such as an ageing population, a shrinking workforce and weakened demand for its exports. 

Li told attendees this week that the next five years will be a “decisive” period for China if it wants to become a high-income society by 2020 – “another milestone in the modernisation process”, he said, but added: “Completion of a comprehensive well-off society will not come automatically.”

He said the difficulties the country faces “should not be underestimated” and that the country needs to “firmly grasp” the primary task of developing a “prosperous society”.