New Communist Party chief Xi Jinping called for officials and business executives to stay alert to the challenges faced by China's economy, during a meeting on Sunday.
A source said Xi visited the 124th division of the 42nd Group Army in Luofushan, Huizhou city, yesterday. Xi's late father, Xi Zhongxun , served as a political commissar of the Guangzhou military district in the late '70s.
Xi is also expected to visit a Li Zhengtian a philosopher and dissident in the Cultural Revolution and who was imprisoned for calling for democracy and the rule of law. Li, now a professor at the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts, was rehabilitated by Xi's father, Xi Zhongxun.
In the first official report on Xi's southern tour, Xinhua said Xi met local officials and business chiefs from state-owned and private companies and stressed that the restructuring of the economy "admits no delay" if China is not to lose out internationally. Xinhua did not mention other activities on Xi's southern tour.
Xi was quoted as saing: "We should acknowledge the economic and social achievements we have made so far this year and recognise the long-term fundamentals will remain sound … meanwhile, we should recognise that adverse domestic and overseas effects will be long-term, complicated and winding. We should not run from conflicts and cover up problems."
Xinhua said Xi interacted intensively with those at the meeting, who raised problems with tax, financial and land policies, the bleak trade outlook and difficulties faced by small businesses. He also told them not to read from prepared scripts.
Xi is expected to visit Professor Li during his stay in Guangzhou, two independent sources said.
In 1974 Li was among a group of intellectuals who posted a big-character poster titled "On socialist democracy and rule of law" in Guangzhou under the pseudonym Li Yizhe during the Cultural Revolution. They were rehabilitated in late 1978 thanks to the efforts of then Guangdong party chief Xi Zhongxun. Li, 70, said he had a good impression of Xi as he had inherited "precious traditions" from revolutionaries.
"Xi Jinping spent many years as a sent-down youth, where he went through many hardships. And his fate has been closely linked with major historical events of this country," Li said. "So I really hope he'd dare to speak out and take actions, just like his father did, and listen to public sentiment."
Professor Yuan Weishi, a historian at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said the meeting, if it happened, would send an extremely positive signal for future political reform.