Chinese plan to speed up economic reform: Blueprint seeks to chart development towards a market economy in the post-Deng era

THE CHINESE Communist Party last night published a blueprint for accelerated economic reform designed to put the stamp of the ailing paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, on the country's development until the end of the century.

While not abandoning recent attempts to cool down the booming economy, the emphasis of the Central Committee communique was firmly on opportunities for growth, coupled with the need for ambitious, wide-ranging structural reforms in banking, taxation, state enterprise, the legal system, investment and foreign trade. Wages will be linked to actual work, and some areas and some people will be encouraged 'to get rich first'.

Xiao Yang, the Governor of China's most populous province, Sichuan, and an alternate Central Committee member, said the party plenum meeting had been a 'turning point' in China's reform process. It is a year since the 'socialist market economy' was formally endorsed by the full 14th Party Congress, but the concept has remained nebulous.

'Now we let people know what it is about, what the detailed interpretation of it is like,' Mr Xiao told the Independent last night after the close of the 14th Congress's third plenary session. Some attempt has this time been made to spell out the different areas where reform will focus, although much remains clouded by party jargon.

'This document . . . expresses the Chinese people's determination to reform. The significance is that it is proposed that by the end of the century the market ecomomy system will be created. So the next seven years will be a very challenging time for us,' Mr Xiao said.

While still short on detail, some diplomats and analysts have said the four-day meeting may prove the most crucial top-level party gathering since the one 15 years ago at which Mr Deng launched China on its path of reform and opening up to the outside world. At issue, given the friction that still exists among senior cadres on the pace of economic reform, is the direction China will take after the death of the 89-year- old Mr Deng. 'No matter if Mr Deng is alive or not, this (blueprint) is China's general strategy for reform,' said Mr Xiao.

Speculation about Mr Deng's health was again sparked earlier this month with the publication of a set of his speaches reaffirming his reform principles. In the run-up to the plenum, Mr Deng's book has received blanket coverage in the official media.

In the summer, high inflation, rampant money supply growth, and a collapsing currency pushed China to launch an austerity programme, designed by the Vice-Premier, Zhu Rongji, which was aimed at reining in the speculative areas of the economy, such as property development and unofficial trading in shares. But the clampdown on bank loans also badly pinched the country's decrepit loss-making state industries, raising fears about large-scale unemployment.

This plenum stopped short of endorsing a privatisation programme for the state sector and the commnique stressed that public ownership would remain the predominant feature of China's economy. Dealing with heavily manned, loss- making state industry is one of the country's biggest headaches, and the plan is to turn as many as possible into limited liability companies.

Yesterday's blueprint contains 10 parts, of which Mr Zhu's adjustment plan represents just one. China's economic guru has been taking a very low public profile in recent weeks.

The communique played down many of the worst problems that still exist, including widespread discontent amoung China's 900 million peasants, whose living conditions have fallen far behind their urban counterparts. Yesterday's statement said the economic measures had 'produced positive results'.

LONDON - Chris Patten, the Governor of Hong Kong, says he has been given cabinet authority to 'pull the plug' on talks with China if he cannot strike a deal soon on broadening democracy in the colony, AP reports.

Hong Kong would like a settlement if possible, but 'there is a general feeling that we can't have a settlement at any price,' he said in an interview on BBC Television's On The Record programme.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones