National People's Congress chairman Wu Bangguo vowed yesterday that the mainland would stick to its socialist path, saying that Western political systems were not suitable for China despite growing calls for political reform. In a report delivered to the annual session of the NPC in Beijing, Wu said that a socialist system with Chinese characteristics had guaranteed development and the country 'must cherish it even more and adhere to it for a long time to come'. 'We need to be fully aware of the essential differences between this system and Western capitalist countries' systems of political power,' he said. 'We need to remain sober-minded and take a firm and clear stand on major issues of principle and unwaveringly keep to the socialist path of political development with Chinese characteristics.' Critics have been calling for a revamp of the political system, especially since pro-democracy revolts swept the Arab world last year. Wu told last year's session that China would not employ a system of parties holding office in rotation and would not exercise separation of powers. There have been new calls for reform this year, with some scholars, including famous economist Wu Jinglian, expressing concern that economic reforms will stall if there is no political reform. Wu urged 2,978 NPC deputies yesterday to have 'a firm grasp of the correct political orientation'. 'Comrades working at people's congresses should enhance their theoretical competency, maintain a high level of political unity with the party central committee, and take a clear stand in rejecting the influence of all erroneous ideologies and theories.' Wu said 2012 was an important year for the NPC because the Communist Party would hold its 18th congress this autumn, overseeing a change of leadership. 'To ensure the success of the 18th congress, it is crucially important for us to firmly follow the general principle of making progress while maintaining stability,' he said. Wu also said the NPC would pay attention to the transformation of the mainland's economic development model, vowing to tackle the problems of unbalanced development and focus on boosting domestic demand, increasing investment in science and technology, reducing emissions and promoting the use of alternative sources of energy. He said the NPC had investigated how to prevent local government debt risks and establish a mechanism to ensure basic funding for county governments. Local government debt has grown rapidly, sparking concerns about the ability to repay loans. Wu said the NPC had vowed to prevent local governments from making payment guarantees in violation of regulations and to subject their budgets to review. The NPC will also launch studies on the reform and development of state-owned enterprises, on strengthening environmental protection and on promoting urban community development. Wu said the mainland would also accelerate personal income tax reform to adjust income distribution. Legislation will focus on society and culture. The NPC will deliberate drafts of the mental health law, law on insurance for military personnel, and draft amendments to the civil procedure law. Laws will be drawn up to promote a healthy online culture and national information security.