New plan to help poor areas
COMMUNIST Party leaders are putting the finishing touches to a new five-year economic blueprint that is expected to favour western and central provinces.
The Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000) will also continue to promote market forces, the pro-Beijing journal Mirror reported.
It is high on the agenda of the Fifth Plenum of the party's Central Committee to be held after the World Women's Conference in Beijing in September.
The plan will be discussed first by senior leaders when they retreat to the seaside resort of Beidaihe next month.
After the autumn plenum, it will be tabled for discussion at the annual National People's Congress next spring.
The decision to shift the economic focus from east to western China has been motivated by strong pressure from the inland provinces and Beijing's plan to eliminate poverty by the end of the century, the Mirror said.
Official statistics say at least 80 million people in China still live below the poverty line, and most of them are peasants in north-west and central areas.
The Mirror said the plan would consist of eight major points: Strengthening the market mechanism and adjusting the Government's power over the economy.
Further development of the state-owned economy while encouraging the growth of private and foreign-funded business.
Speeding up the establishment of a modern business system and further separating the Government from enterprises.
Speeding up the development of a social security system.
Regulating wealth distribution through tax collection.
Speeding up economic development in central and western China.
Promoting the market economy in the countryside.
Further integration with the world economy.
Apart from the five-year plan, the plenum will discuss a long-term development scheme for the next 15 years, which will focus on production technology.
Another issue to be discussed at the plenum will be the investigation of former Beijing party secretary and politburo member Chen Xitong, who resigned earlier this year amid a scandal over corruption and the suicide of vice-mayor Wang Baosen. The Mirror said Chen's 'crimes' would be 'fully exposed' at the plenum. He would be stripped of his Politburo membership and might even face corruption charges.
The magazine said senior leaders, including President Jiang Zemin, had decided to make an example of Chen to show their determination to crack down on corruption.