Thu, Oct 12, 2006 - Page 4 News List

CCP praises Hu's `harmonious' plan

DOCTRINE'S DEBUT The party's Central Committee closed its four-day meeting with a pledge to close the income gap while continuing to push development

AGENCIES , BEIJING

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) lauded President Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤) doctrine of creating a harmonious society yesterday, underscoring his growing strength as the party announced plans for a key congress next year.

The four-day meeting of the roughly 350-person Central Committee was officially meant to take up efforts to spread China's new prosperity more evenly and ease tensions over the growing gap between rich and poor.

In a keynote speech, Hu "advocated putting the construction of a socialist harmonious society at a more prominent position," the official Xinhua news agency said.

The committee meeting ended yesterday with a decision "on constructing a socialist harmonious society" and saying the 17th Party Congress would convene next year, Xinhua said.

"There are many conflicts and problems affecting social harmony," the meeting communique read, according to Xinhua. "We must always remain clear-headed and be vigilant even in tranquil times."

By 2020, China would have narrowed yawning income disparities and would be enjoying relatively full employment, the communique said.

But Beijing would seek to maintain rapid economic growth, it indicated.

"A harmonious society above all needs development," the statement said.

"The plenary meeting is the first of its kind that the party has focused on social development matters other than political and economic affairs," Xinhua said.

"Building a harmonious society" is the CCP's catchphrase for closing the widening gulf between China's new, small middle class and its poor majority.

Hu, who was appointed party general secretary at the previous congress in 2002, is expected to consolidate his grip on power and ideology at next year's meeting.

Yesterday's decision will allow Hu to nudge aside the legacy of his predecessor, Jiang Zemin (江澤民), who ushered capitalists into the CCP. Many of Hu's colleagues in the party's inner circle are Jiang proteges, and Hu is likely to push some into retirement at the 17th Congress or before.

But Chinese media reports left unclear whether the closed-door meeting had made any decision on Chen Liangyu (陳良宇), the sacked Shanghai party boss, whose downfall last month highlighted concerns about widespread corruption and official abuse.

Chen also lost his seat in the party's 24-member Politburo, the first member of the decision-making body to be sacked since 1995 when Jiang purged and jailed Beijing party boss Chen Xitong (陳希同).

Chen was a protege of Jiang's, and his sacking was widely regarded as a way for Hu to curb the power of rivals and rein in uncooperative regional leaders.

Chen had criticized moves by Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) to slow breakneck growth that was encouraging real estate speculation but touching off complaints by displaced residents.

Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng (韓正) has been named the city's acting party chief, and some party insiders had said Hu might use the committee session to appoint a protege to run the financial metropolis, consolidating his power in the run-up to next year's congress.

If Han stays on, analysts said, it would be a sign there would be no major shake-up in Shanghai.

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