Xi Jinping, the Communist Party general secretary, wrapped up his five-day tour of Guangdong and returned to Beijing yesterday after making a string of high-profile calls for further reform and more opening up, in his first inspection trip since becoming the party's new chief last month.
China Central Television showed its first footage of Xi inspecting different locations in its main newscast last night. It said he visited Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan and Guangzhou, not mentioning his visit to a military base in Huizhou on Monday.
Xinhua also released several articles on Xi's southern tour yesterday, quoting him as saying there would be "no stop in reform, no stop in opening up". The news agency said Xi had reiterated during the trip that "reform and opening up was a great awakening in the party's history".
The party's 18th national congress last month, which led to Xi taking over from Hu Jintao as party general secretary, issued "a new declaration" and "a new order of mobilisation" for deepening reform and opening up, Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.
Xi said he chose Guangdong, which served as the testing ground for reform and policies aimed at opening up more than 30 years ago, as the destination for his first inspection tour because he wanted to "conduct an on-site retrospection of the history of reform and opening up and declare the resolve to press ahead with that policy".
But he also acknowledged that the country's reform had entered a most difficult phase, which would require "greater political courage and wisdom" to deepen reform in key areas.
Analysts welcomed his emphasis on reform but caution that the real test would be in implementation. Yuan Weishi, a Guangzhou-based historian and political commentator, said it would all be empty talk if the new leadership could not roll out concrete measures to uphold the rule of law, shatter the monopoly of state-owned enterprises in key industries and boost incomes.
State media played up Xi's laying of a wreath at a statue honouring the late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping at Lotus Hill in Shenzhen on Saturday.
"We came here to show that we will unswervingly push forward reform and opening up," Xinhua quoted Xi as saying in front of the statue. His inspection tour, which has drawn parallels with Deng's famous 1992 southern tour, included visits to poor villages, state-owned enterprises, army offices and research institutions, Xinhua said.
Yesterday morning, Xi visited a showpiece greening project in Guangzhou and interacted with some carefully chosen residents, a big contrast to the relative spontaneity of his Shenzhen tour.
Xi, who will succeed Hu as president in March, had a brief tour yesterday morning of the Donghaochong museum, which showcases a regeneration project in 2010 that turned a heavily polluted area along the ancient Donghaochong canal into green parks, before meeting dozens of residents who had been waiting for him beside the waterway for at least an hour.
Showing his approachable style, Xi teased a nine-month-old girl, shook hands with some in the crowd, and waved and smiled at the press. But his visit was choreographed by the Guangzhou authorities. More than an hour before Xi's arrival, the waterside platform was blocked off by security staff and passers-by were asked to move along.
Watch footage from CCTV of Xi Jinping on his Guangdong tour