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China abuzz with expectations of major eco, pol changes

world Updated: Oct 17, 2010 16:56 IST

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China may undertake a radical economic overhaul soon to bring about a shift from a largely export-driven growth model to an economy driven by domestic consumption with the meeting of its top leadership sparking speculation that major changes, including in the political sphere, are in the offing.

China is abuzz with expectations of major economic, political and leadership changes as the top leadership of the ruling Communist Party is set to end its four-day marathon meeting tomorrow after finalising the 12th five year plan and deliberating measures to bridge the widening gap between the rich and poor.

Besides grappling with unprecedented open demands to lift censorship by activists from both within and outside the party, the plenary session of the 17th CPC Central Committee was expected to pave way for the new generation of leadership to succeed President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in 2012.

The five-year plan for the period of 2011-15 being finalised by the meeting is expected to bring about a seismic shift to change China's growth model from an export-driven economy to a domestic consumption driven one.

State television is full of reports that shift was imminent as China cannot rely on exports alone in view of the slow recovery in Europe and the US, which are the main destination of exports.

There is intense pressure on China to appreciate its currency, and if done it would significantly cut the viability of cheap exports. Yuan appreciated 2.5 per cent this week.

The plenary session of 2010 is also being watched with interest for any indication on whether the widely expected succession of Vice President Xi Jinping is on track.

As per the tradition, the senior Vice President would succeed the President and Party Chief.

But Xi, so far has not been appointed as the Vice Chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), sparking speculation over whether there was any change of script in the succession plan.

Remarks by the party's top ideologue that the meeting may set off new comprehensive political and economic reforms which included providing an opening to a democratic system involving elections, have set off speculation that the Communist Party may allow some opening for democracy.

Yu Keping, a "prominent theorist" and deputy director of the CPC Central Compilation and Translation Bureau said democracy was essential for good governance and the party meeting was expected to consider reforms in this regard.