China must deepen reforms to perfect its market economy and strengthen rule of law, Communist Party chief Xi Jinping said in southern Guangdong, echoing groundbreaking comments by reformist senior leader Deng Xiaoping in the same province 20 years ago.
Xi's call for reform was reported on Monday, coinciding with an apparent easing of Internet search restrictions that the party has energetically used to suppress information that could threaten one-party rule.
China’s largest microblog service unblocked searches for the names of many top political leaders in a possible sign of looser controls a month after new senior officials were named to head the ruling party.
Searches on the popular Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblog for party chief Xi Jinping, Vice Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders — terms that have long been barred under strict censorship rules — revealed detailed lists of news reports and user comments.
Xi's comments on the economy came on Sunday during a trip to Guangdong where he paid tribute to Deng, whose visit in 1992 ushered in an era of breakneck economic reform and growth.
"The government earnestly wants to study the issues that are being brought up, and wants to perfect the market economy system ... by deepening reform, and resolve the issues by strengthening rule of law," Xi was quoted by Xinhua state news agency as saying. Experts say that unless the stability-obsessed party leadership pushes through stalled reforms, the nation risks economic malaise and social woes that could deepen unrest and threaten its grip on power.
It was too early to detect a change of heart on censorship, but Zhan Jiang, a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said the signs were good.
‘Shenzhen visit a sign for reforms’
China’s new Communist Party chief Xi Jinping has signalled his commitment to push for economic reforms by visiting the city of Shenzhen, the historic hub of modernisation, state media said Monday. Xi’s trip, his first official one as ruling party leader, echoed a visit by then-leader Deng Xiaoping to the southern boomtown in 1992 to revive reforms.
Deng had launched China’s economic modernisation more than three decades ago under the slogan “Reform and Opening”. Analysts said that the pace of restructuring has slowed in the last decade under outgoing leader Hu Jintao, but Xi’s choice of destination sent a clear signal. “We will continue down this path.” Xi added. AFP