CONTROVERSY over the economy could start fireworks at the National People's Congress. The mainstream view, championed by patriarch Mr Deng Xiaoping, advocates acceleration of economic reforms as time runs short for China's modernisation. The dissenting view, championed by central planning-oriented cadres in the State Council, is that faced with hyperinflation and other signs of the economy overheating, the central government should slow down reform and reimpose central control. Analysts indicated that Mr Deng has already gained the upper hand in the past few weeks following his remarks made in Shanghai during the Lunar New Year. The patriarch said: ''Some people have raised the question of 'overheated economy'. From an overall perspective, I disagree. There might be some overheatedness in some sectors. But we should not curb 'overheatedness' across the board.'' His radical philosophy seems to have set the tone for the debate during the congress. A local delegate of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference said: ''Who can utter a word [on the issue] after Deng has spoken? No one dare take him to task. Even though the economy has not overheated, there is danger now. But since Deng did not want to talk about it, there is little that can be changed.'' A Chinese source claimed that mainland news media had been ordered to censor reports of the overheated economy. Reformists championing a quicker pace of economic reforms feared that leftists might try to roll back the programme on the pretext of cooling down the economy. ''The question is not a matter of whether the economy is overheated or not, but whether there should be reform or not,'' the delegate said. A China-watcher said there was a danger that the country might plunge into economic chaos similar to that in 1987 and 1988. But party chief Mr Jiang Zemin claimed that the economy was ''good and its growth healthy''. He said that structural weaknesses needed to be rectified to allow a smooth transition from planned to market economy. ''We believe that only by adhering to the reform and open-door policy can we solve the problems as they emerge,'' he said. Chinese analysts were worried that double-digit growth might not be sustainable over a longer period of time. The high level of credits and money supply increase the danger of runaway inflation in the latter half of this year, they say. Sources said that because of Mr Deng's instructions, banks failed to carry out the tight-money policy they had championed. And in instances such as paying off IOUs given to farmers, financial institutions had to print money to tide over the severe financial squeeze.