President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji will redouble efforts next year to restructure state-owned enterprises by floating more of them on the stock market. An economic source in Beijing said yesterday that the leadership, after striking a deal with Washington on access to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), was determined to make state firms more competitive. 'Jiang and Zhu are convinced that if a state enterprise is floated and more non-state entities, including private firms and individuals, become shareholders, then the management will be under pressure to improve productivity,' the source said. A key problem was that after a short bull run in the middle of the year, transactions on the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses had remained flat, he said. It is understood the authorities are preparing new measures to boost public confidence in buying stocks. Ordinary mainlanders have combined bank savings totalling several thousand billion yuan. Mr Jiang recently asked a senior stock market official why performance in mainland bourses had lagged behind that in the United States by such a big margin. 'Through the 1990s, the Chinese economy has grown much faster than the American one,' Mr Jiang reportedly said. 'Yet while Wall Street has enjoyed an unprecedented boom, stock prices here have not taken off.' Diplomatic analysts said Mr Zhu wanted to prevent 'speculative action' by stock companies and other institutions. They said the Premier had remarked that companies, particularly those with good connections and inside information, were too ready to pull out once they got wind of unfavourable news. The analysts said that in May and June, the Zhu cabinet engineered bullish sentiments on the market by encouraging the state media to release rosy projections about the economy. However, it would not be easy for the Beijing leadership to repeat the same exercise, given the public's cynicism about government manipulation of the market, the analysts said. Plans to list more than 100 billion yuan (HK$93.94 billion) worth of new shares have been held up because of the lack of enthusiasm among stock buyers. A source close to the Zhu camp said the Premier also wanted to boost the role of the non-state sector by allowing more private or collectively owned firms to be listed.