Reform of state-owned enterprises has been earmarked by leading regional cadres as their top priority for 1999.
About 40 per cent of cadres polled by the Communist Party School said enterprise reform was the topic affording 'most concern'.
It was followed by the 'trailblazing' campaign launched by Premier Zhu Rongji last March to trim government bureaucracy by half in three years, Xinhua reported.
Researchers questioned 125 cadres in local governments across the country. The survey asked the cadres to prioritise their agendas from 20 reform issues.
Xinhua said 40 per cent of cadres said they were most interested in how the authorities would proceed to stop losses in state-owned enterprises.
In his inaugural press conference 10 months ago, Mr Zhu pledged to stem the losses and achieve an eight per cent growth of the economy in 1998. Then, the Government said about 40 per cent of state firms were losing money.
The situation has yet to improve, with the economy sluggish at the end of last year.
Last month, the Government admitted the economy only grew by 7.8 per cent in 1998.
Political restructuring was cited by 13 per cent of cadres as the most important issue, while 2.5 per cent chose housing reform as their top issue in 1999.
Issues which have attracted much public attention but were not chosen by the cadres included medical welfare and the urban residency rules applied to migrants from the countryside.
The survey found cadres in coastal provinces were more concerned about state-owned enterprises than their western counterparts.
In western provinces, 50 per cent of the cadres put streamlining of the bureaucracy top of their agenda.