Soaring 565 meters over the Beipan River in Yunnan Province, China’s Beipanjiang Bridge is the world’s highest, and dizzying to cross. President Xi Jinping must have felt like a tightrope walker on its deck when he called the Chinese Communist Party’s Politbureau to order last Friday to set the country’s economic trajectory.

China will finish 2020 with strong economic growth while Western economies are still groping their way out of the Covid-19 crisis, but its leadership has no room for complacency. 

China needs a surge in productivity. As Tianjin University economist Cong Yi told the official daily Global Times, "Innovation will be of upmost importance in 2021, with much effort to be focused on making up for the lack of domestically independent and original innovation.”

Xi Jinping can’t make this happen without China’s big tech companies – Alibaba, Huawei, Tencent, Baidu among others. The risk is that China’s long-protected Internet firms will morph into monopolies that draw revenue away from other businesses without contributing to productivity.