Ahead of third plenum, Xi assures foreigners of economic reforms

International group hears president's vision for progress at next weekend's third plenum

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 November, 2013, 6:41am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 November, 2013, 6:41am

President Xi Jinping reaffirmed the country's commitment to economic reform while meeting an international group of policy thinkers yesterday, pledging a "comprehensive reform plan" at a key Communist Party meeting this week.

The president's remarks came amid speculation over the scope of the policy programme the party's Central Committee would produce at its third plenum, which is scheduled to begin on Saturday in Beijing.

"The already opened door will never be closed again," Xi said, in a reference to the economic policies launched three decades ago under Deng Xiaoping . "The reform and opening up are a never-ending process. There will be a comprehensive plan to give overall instructions on the widely deepened reform and opening up."

Xi was meeting members of the 21st Century Council, a global governance group including former British prime minister Gordon Brown, former Australian prime minister Paul Keating and former Singaporean foreign minister Kishore Mahbubani.

Xi said he was confident the country would have healthy economic growth and would not fall into the so-called middle- income trap, in which an economy's growth stalls because it has exploited its advantages.

"We are currently changing our way of development, adjusting our economic structure, accelerating our new style of industrialisation, promoting technology, urbanisation and agricultural modernisation," Xi said.

State media reports carried no reference to political reform, which few expect Xi to pursue at the plenum.

"Xi wants to deliver some positive signs by talking to foreigners," said political analyst Chen Ziming . "And without that, the other reforms are small adjustments. There might be some reforms to discuss in the plenum, but we all know a further [political] opening-up is unlikely to be discussed."

Last week, Yu Zhengsheng, the No 4 member in the party's supreme Politburo Standing Committee, promised "unprecedented" reforms at the plenum, raising expectations for sweeping changes.

Third plenums have served as a key turning point on reforms in the party's history, especially under Deng in 1978.