The newly elected chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference yesterday told delegates they must listen to the voices of China's emerging social elite. As the 12-day annual plenum of the top political advisory body drew to a close, Jia Qinglin said the forum had to adapt to the changing face of society. 'With profound changes in China's economic and social structures, new economic sectors and distribution modes, new interest groups and social organisations have emerged,' Mr Jia said. This meant the CPPCC needed to recruit people from a larger spectrum to represent its economic interests, he said. But he also assured the grassroots that their political participation in the CPPCC would not be undermined. 'We must firmly count on the wisdom and strength of the broad masses of the people, and count on the joint efforts of all political parties and organisations, all ethnic groups and people from all walks of life,' he said. Mr Jia stressed that recruiting people from all sectors of society had always been an important part of party policy. Li Kowk-keung, a Hong Kong CPPCC member, said Mr Jia's remarks reflected the leadership's desire to strengthen ties with young professionals and entrepreneurs. Mr Li said that for Mr Jia to represent a broad spectrum of interests, he had to increase his understanding of the issues facing ethnic minorities and overseas Chinese. He said Mr Jia's background as an engineer and local party boss in Fujian and Beijing meant his field of experience was narrow. But Mu Qiru, a Beijing-based CPPCC deputy who worked with Mr Jia during his time as party secretary of the capital, said he had good leadership skills. 'Mr Jia is very good at uniting people from different areas, as shown by the way he brought officials together in the Beijing leadership,' said Ms Mu. In his concluding speech yesterday, Mr Jia described this year's CPPCC as a 'great success', but the remark was called into question by his opponents. Mr Jia, a protege of outgoing President Jiang Zemin, was elected chairman of the CPPCC on Thursday with the second-lowest number of votes. He received only 1,990 out of 2,145 valid votes. Seventy-nine people voted against him and 76 abstained. The closing meeting was attended by top leaders, included Mr Jiang and General Secretary of Communist Party, Hu Jintao. Party elders, including former National People's Congress chairman Qiao Shi, also made an appearance during the closing ceremony yesterday.