Wed, Jun 27, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Hu tells officials reform must be in `correct direction'

AGENDA The president told Communist Party leaders nationwide that a `basically well-off society' must be achieved by 2010

AGENCIES , BEIJING

China is committed to economic and political reforms, but change should "adhere to a correct political direction," Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) said in a keynote speech published yesterday ahead of a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) meeting.

In the speech laying out his future agenda, Hu told CCP leaders they must meet a 2020 target for achieving a "basically well-off society," a key motif of his nearly five years as head of state and chairman of the 70-million-member party.

"This is where the interests of all the nation's ethnic groups lie and this is what we must strive for unremittingly," Hu said at the Central Party School, which trains political rising stars.

SHOW OF UNITY

In a conspicuous show of unity, the speech was attended by the full 198-members CCP Central Committee, leaders of the military and security services, representatives of all cities, provinces and regions and the heads of top government organizations.

Internal policy debates have intensified in the run-up to the 17th Party Congress in the autumn, when Hu is expected to consolidate power through a leadership reshuffle and unveil the country's agenda for the next five years.

"Reform and opening-up is an inevitable path to realize the Chinese nation's great rejuvenation ... and should be pushed forward unswervingly," he said.

"Our country's political reforms must adhere to a correct political direction. .. and adhere to the party's leadership," Hu was quoted as saying by the People's Daily.

Pictures and news of the meeting were splashed on the front pages of the People's Daily and other major newspapers.

`ORDERLY' DEMOCRACY

Hu said socialist democracy was a long-term goal of the party, which has made "active and safe" efforts toward this end, adding that grassroots democracy should be "developed."

But "expanding citizens' political participation must be orderly" and the CCP's leading role must be ensured, Hu said.

Hu's comments on corruption underscore the ouster of a number of prominent officials in corruption scandals over the past year, in some cases removing political foes and allowing Hu to further consolidate power.

Party cadres must put the fight against graft in an "even more prominent position," Hu said.

"Party committees at all levels must fully recognize the long-term nature, difficulty, and complexity of the struggle against corruption," he said.

Hu said the party should focus on key concerns such as education and employment, along with the construction of a social security net and basic health care system for the roughly 800 million rural residents whose social services have long been neglected.

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