"Our socialist market economic system has not been perfected"
Wen's comments came as China's parliament, the National People's Congress, prepares for its annual session beginning on Monday.
The session is expected to focus on a vision for building China into a so-called "harmonious society", touted by Hu Jintao, the Chinese president.
It also comes ahead of a crucial five-yearly Communist Party congress later this year, during which Hu and Wen are expected to be given second terms that will allow them greater rein to implement personal policy initiatives.
Both leaders have been keen to highlight the growing wealth disparities caused by China's breakneck economic growth, and worries over what that might mean for China's future stability.
But while Wen pledged to advance democracy and political reform, there was no mention of a specific timetable.
|Wen gave no timetable for reform or |
details of proposed policies [EPA/file]
Instead Wen said China's leaders would work to develop "productive forces" and increase material wealth whilst at the same time ensuring fairness and social justice.
The two, he said, were "interrelated and mutually beneficial".
Without social justice, Wen said, it would be impossible for China to realise the full potential of its human and natural resources or secure sustained rapid development.
"We are fully able to build democracy and a nation ruled by law under the conditions of socialism," Wen said, but he added China would remain "in the primary stage of socialism for a long time."
"Our socialist market economic system has not been perfected, we have not built up a democratic legal system, social unfairness, corruption and other problems still exist and the socialist system is not yet mature."
Quoting former leader Deng Xiaoping, Wen said the essence of socialism was to "emancipate and develop productive forces, eliminate exploitation and polarization and eventually realize common prosperity".
The report gave no details of when the Chinese premier's comments were made and also made no mention of specific policies.
Wen said democratic reform in China would be difficult especially as the nation struggled to sustain booming economic growth amid an uncertain international environment.
"At present, we will advance economic development, safeguard civil rights, fight corruption, and raise political public confidence and the ability of the government to execute policy," Wen was quoted as saying.
"The core work will be to advance a harmonious society, expand democracy, build a legal system and continue to push forward the reform of the political system."