President Jiang Zemin has indicated he will not seek a third term as party general secretary in 2002, instead asking his colleagues to support Vice-President Hu Jintao for the nation's top position. In a private talk with Politburo members and senior cadres after returning from his five-nation tour last week, Mr Jiang also underscored the need to 'push reform one step further'. Mr Jiang, 73, told members that at the 16th Communist Party Congress in 2002, only two of the existing seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee should remain: Mr Hu, 57, and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Chairman, Li Ruihuan, 65, a party source said yesterday. Promising to speed up rejuvenation and reform, Mr Jiang asked senior cadres to support Mr Hu, a vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission. 'We should give more opportunities to Comrade Jintao to exercise leadership functions,' Mr Jiang reportedly said. Mr Jiang first became party general secretary after the June 4, 1989, crackdown, but this was a sudden development and he was, in effect, appointed to the post by Deng Xiaoping. He sought his first term as general secretary in 1992 and his second term in 1997. It is the first time Mr Jiang has pointed to his stepping down from the top party post in 2002. He would remain state President until early 2003. The constitution prevents senior officials from serving more than two terms, or 10 years. However, party positions are not subject to retirement rules and there has been intense speculation that Mr Jiang, who is in good health, could remain general secretary until the 17th Party Congress in 2007. The President dropped a subtle hint he might hang on to the chairmanship of the military commission, a position Deng occupied after stepping down from his party and state positions in the early 1980s. 'The Taiwan situation may remain a long-term struggle,' Mr Jiang said, implying that the nation needed an experienced cadre such as himself to remain at the head of the defence forces. A party source said that should Mr Jiang adopt the so-called 'Deng Xiaoping model' of remaining commander-in-chief, he might continue to be a power behind the scenes for several more years. Mr Jiang's speech to the Politburo also touched on the situation in Taiwan and his assessment of the countries he had visited. However, the President gave top billing to the future of reform, particularly the need to select young and middle-aged cadres to carry forward Deng's reform and open-door policy. 'We must choose young cadres with an international perspective,' he said. 'This will help with our further integration with the world, and enable us to better meet the challenges of tomorrow.' Mr Jiang then instructed the party's Organisation Department to ensure that cadres being groomed for all levels of leadership positions have the necessary 'global perspective'. Beijing analysts have pointed out in the past that Mr Jiang and his colleagues only stressed the 'four-fold requirements' for cadres - that they must be young, 'revolutionary', well-educated, and professionally competent. The analysts said Mr Jiang's apparent decision to quit his party position in 2002 had been influenced by the emergence of a new corps of young leaders in countries and regions including the United States and Britain, and recently, Russia and Taiwan. A source close to the party's General Office said Mr Jiang had paid more attention to the need for rejuvenation following the elections of Russia's Vladimir Putin and Taiwan's Chen Shui-bian. 'Pointing out both Putin and Chen are in their 40s, Jiang said one or two cadres in their 40s should be inducted into the Politburo to be formed in 2002,' the source said. The source said that given the lack of experience and slim power base of 'fourth generation' rising stars such as Mr Hu, Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao, 57, and Guangdong party boss Li Changchun, 56, Mr Jiang would probably remain de facto top leader until 2007. 'On other occasions, Jiang has stressed the need for party elders to be around for a few more years to help the fourth generation meet the challenge of economic development and thwarting Washington's [anti-China] containment policy,' he added.