Xinhua News Agency

Grand ceremony today to celebrate 30 years of reform

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 December, 2008, 12:00am

Beijing will host a grand ceremony today to mark the 30th anniversary of the reform and opening up, bringing the year-long nationwide celebration to a climax.

The ceremony will start at 10am at the Great Hall of the People and all major mainland media, including China Central Television, Xinhua and China National Radio, will broadcast it live, Xinhua reported.

President Hu Jintao first announced the official plan of 'ceremoniously commemorating the 30th anniversary of reform and opening up' on December 31 last year.

Mr Hu said the reform and opening up, which was started in 1978, was the critical decision that 'had determined the fate of contemporary China' and brought the country historic changes.

At the third plenary session of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China three decades ago, Beijing abandoned its decades-old focus on political struggle and switched to concentrating on economic development.

The mainland economy was on the verge of collapse, but China opened itself to the world, setting up special economic zones to attract foreign capital, which until then had been strongly criticised in party propaganda as evil.

Large-scale commemorative events have been launched nationwide for almost a year by all levels of governments, the military, work units and schools.

Yuan Weishi , philosophy professor at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said the events reminded the public and officials that the only way for China to have a brilliant future was to 'continue the reform'.

The People's Liberation Army's General Political Department organised one of the earliest events, on the second day of the year, asking all retired officers to share their memories of the last 30 years with the PLA's newspaper.

Mainland democratic parties also marked the anniversary. The Jiusan Society, a scholars-based party, announced a brief celebration schedule in early September, asking all party committees in the next three months to arrange seminars, panels and online content for discussion about how the democratic parties had been led by the Communist Party and contributed to the reform.

Academics widely agreed that the reform started in 1978 to counter the economic depression caused by the Cultural Revolution and other destructive policies introduced by Beijing between 1956 and 1976. They said that sometimes the mainland was 'forced' to change, even today.

'The current global economic crisis brings pressure that might cause even further reform in different fields,' Professor Yuan said.

He suggested that the mainland government's next direction would be to stimulate domestic consumption by increasing public pensions and health insurance.