China's senior officials are proposing to move away from the country's policy of breakneck economic growth in favour of improving social services.
Rural areas are being left behind by growing urban affluence
Details of the plan emerged on Wednesday after it was agreed at the annual Communist Party plenum which ended on Tuesday.
The new plan maps out economic policy for the next five years.
According to state media, it calls for more sustainable growth and deals with the rising gap between rich and poor.
According to a communiqué released after the meeting, China aims to double its 2000 gross domestic product (GDP) by 2010, the official China Daily said.
But this must be achieved by "optimizing structure, improving efficiency and decreasing energy consumption," the communiqué reportedly said.
It added that China should improve its social security system and adopt more environmentally friendly policies.
The change of focus follows more than two decades of rapid economic growth which has transformed China's place in the world and taken millions of people out of poverty.
Resolutions from Communist Party plenums are not the sort of thing that usually sets people's hearts racing, according to Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, a BBC correspondent in Beijing.
But this time, he says, the plan contains a clear admission that many things are going wrong in China.
At a rhetorical level, at least, China's Communist Party leadership now appears to accept that the country's decade of headlong growth has caused a vast array of problems.
It has done immense damage to China's environment, has been enormously wasteful of resources and has left tens of millions of people in China's countryside far behind, mired in poverty, he says.
Acknowledging those problems is significant, our correspondent says, but the question now is what exactly does the party intends to do about them.
The information which has come out of the plenary meeting so far gives little clue.
The agreed proposals only offer broad guidance. Developing specific measures to tackle some of the toughest challenges facing China is going to be much harder, analysts say.