Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao, in a highly symbolic study session held yesterday, urged senior party officials to acquire a better understanding of the world economy. For the first time since the new leadership came to office in October, economic issues were brought to the forefront of a study session of the new politburo standing committee. 'We must get to know favourable and unfavourable factors brought about by changes in the development of the world economy, and make good use of the favourable and shun the unfavourable, in order to promote sustained, speedy and healthy development of our country's economy,' Mr Hu was quoted by Xinhua as telling the party's top echelon yesterday. Analysts said the study session was significant as all nine members of the politburo standing committee were engineers by training and none had a background in economics, even though they were at the helm of the mainland economy at a critical point in its growth. Political analysts have been eagerly awaiting the first public speech on economic issues by Mr Hu, who has little experience in the realm of economics. Mr Hu has been highly visible during his first two months in office, visiting isolated rural areas and talking about the rule of law. In yesterday's remarks, Mr Hu noted that the world economy had a larger impact on China than before because of the ongoing opening of mainland markets. He urged government leaders to 'learn more basic knowledge about the world economy and to understand more about the basic situation of the international market'. He called for more integration with the world economy by expanding exports, and introducing foreign technology, investment and expertise to China. The choice of themes for the study sessions delivered an important political message about the concerns of the new leadership and how it wants to present itself to the public. In the first such session on December 26, the nine members of the standing committee studied issues relating to China's constitution. Political analysts said this was a move by Mr Hu to consolidate his power by emphasising the rule of law, which protects his legitimacy as the leader of the country despite the looming influence of President Jiang Zemin.