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The rapid economic growth of the People’s Republic of China over the last ten years has been accompanied by a progressive aggravation of social imbalances, the deterioration of environmental conditions and the formation of an economic structure biased towards the manufacturing industry. Ignoring these problems any longer could hinder and compromise further growth, something of which China is in extreme need. The 11th Five Year Plan 2006-2010 aims to be a first step in this direction and sees the Chinese leadership starting to propose a different, alternative way to the one followed to date, introducing a new ‘scientific concept of development’, focusing not only on the quantitative dimension of growth, but also takes its qualitative aspects into account. Greater attention is thus being dedicated to containing social imbalances, environmental protection, sustainable growth and more harmonious development of the entire economic structure. The objectives of the 11th Five Year Plan are a real challenge for the present Chinese government. It is by no means easy to reconcile the central government’s perspectives with those of local administrations: will it be able to effectively implement the programmes it has put forward.