Chinese party to support reforms

PEKING (Reuter) - China's Communist Party will write market economics into its agenda at this year's congress, which will also add fresh, pro-reform faces to its central committee, a senior government economist said.

Wu Jinglian, a key staff member at the Chinese cabinet's research office, said the congress would show that China's efforts to combine Socialist planning with market principles were an illusion 'that will finally vanish like soap bubbles'.

'I believe that the market economy will be written into documents of the 14th Party Congress,' Mr Wu said in an interview published in the official China Daily yesterday.

The congress, the first since 1987, is expected to take place in the autumn. Diplomats say it will mark an important turning point for the Communist Party and could put the final seal of approval on the campaign of the senior leader, Deng Xiaoping, for faster economic reforms.

Mr Wu, a government insider but not a member of the party's central committee, said the congress was expected to revamp the central committee to reflect the pro-reform line. 'Such changes will favour the current market- oriented reform,' he said.

China's leaders are meeting in private before the congress to discuss possible personnel changes, according to foreign diplomats and Chinese observers.

Mr Deng's drive to promote faster capitalist-style change, launched during a whirlwind tour of south China's booming 'special economic zones' in January, has run into opposition from elderly Marxist ideologues who fear the party may be straying too far from its Communist roots.