DISGRACED Chinese party chief Zhao Ziyang has expressed the wish to make further contributions to reform. According to a source who met him in his Beijing house recently, the former general secretary, 74, pays very close attention to progress in the economy. ''Mr Zhao is heartened that most of the reforms he advocated before the June 4, 1989, crackdown have been revived,'' the source said. ''He believes the reforms will succeed.'' He quoted Mr Zhao, a former party boss of Guangdong, as saying: ''Recent developments in the province are very meaningful.'' The source added Mr Zhao had in a subtle fashion expressed a desire to resume his work, at least on the economy. He clearly believed he had a role to play after patriarch Deng Xiaoping leaves the scene. ''While Zhao may no longer have personal political ambitions, he is eager to lend his support to both economic and political reform,'' the source said. ''And he knows he can play the role of a 'spiritual leader' after Deng is gone.'' According to former Zhao aides who met him recently, the ex-party chief is in very good physical and mental health. He plays golf two to three times a week and sometimes walks his dog in the downtown alley where he lives under police guard. ''He is not bitter about his downfall or restrictions being put on his movements,'' said another source, who added Mr Zhao had to apply to the party's top echelon for permission to leave the capital. ''Zhao has more than once indicated that 'whatever has happened to me [since mid-1989] might not be that bad after all','' the source said. ''His mood has been good since the middle of last year, and sometimes he holds forth on topics like the economy for an hour without stopping.'' Mr Zhao's friends said his daughter and son-in-law lived with the former leader, whose wife, however, had recently been admitted to hospital. They said Mr Zhao had been pleased that his youngest son, a businessman formerly based in the United States, had returned to China on regular business trips. It is understood the younger Mr Zhao, who travels on an American passport, spent most of his time in Guangdong and Hainan, and that he had visited Taiwan more than once for business reasons. ''Soon after my departure from office, there was talk about investigation into the business activities of my children,'' Mr Zhao Ziyang reportedly said. ''It turns out they have been law-abiding businessmen after all.''