China’s four-day third plenum starts on Saturday, during which its leaders will define the direction of the economy. Authorities have promised bold reforms. However, the outcome of past plenums suggests that a road map will be presented. In this case, it will be broadly in line with the 12th Five-Year plan, which already has an ambitious agenda centred on gradually directing the economy towards domestic consumption. Although no details concerning the implementation of these reforms are expected, the outcome of the meeting is important since it will give a sense of the priorities. We think the new leaders will opt for a cautious approach, while they consolidate their power base, by using pilot programmes before spreading critical reforms nationwide.