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China Communist party kicks off reform summit

Four-day meeting to set reform agenda for next decade, as leaders try to push for more sustainable growth.

Last updated: 09 Nov 2013 11:24
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President Xi Jinping and other leaders are under pressure to present new economic reforms [Reuters]

Chinese leaders have begun a four-day meeting to set a reform agenda for the next decade as they try to push more sustainable growth after three decades of breakneck expansion, amid signs of continuing debate on how to implement the reforms.

The meeting, held under tight security at a Soviet-era hotel in western Beijing, began on Saturday and will show just how committed the new leadership is to reform after formally taking power in March.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang must unleash new growth drivers as the world's second-largest economy loses steam, burdened by industrial overcapacity, piles of debt and soaring house prices.

Little if any news will be released during the event, but official news agency Xinhua traditionally issues a dispatch on the last day.

Xinhua confirmed in an English-language dispatch that the meeting had begun, with the agenda led by a discussion over a draft document on deepening reform, "which pools the wisdom of the whole party and from all aspects".

It added, "Comprehensively deepening reform means the reform will be more systematic, integrated and coordinated", but gave no other details.

Land reforms likely to be on the agenda at the plenary meeting in Beijing.

Analysts have cautioned against high expectations as stability remains the watchword for the leadership, even amid media reports that top policymakers could take bold steps to deal with entrenched vested interests, such as state monopolies.

The Development Research Centre, a think-tank for China's cabinet, set out last month eight key areas for reform at the plenum, including finance, taxation, land, state assets, social welfare, innovation, foreign investment and governance.

"These are just recommendations. There is still strong opposition" to the proposed reforms, a source with ties to the leadership told Reuters news agency, requesting anonymity.

Powerful interest groups, including leftists or conservatives, local governments, state-owned enterprises and state banks, oppose some of the reforms such as freeing up interest rates, allowing private banks and turning Shanghai into a free trade zone, several sources also said.

However, the party will put on a unified face once Xinhua issues its communique at the end of the plenum on Tuesday, pledging reform without providing too many details.

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