China’s reform of state-owned companies (SOEs) should not be seen by some people as an opportunity for profiting from state assets, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece warned on Monday. SOEs suffered huge losses during reforms in the 1990s as corrupt officials benefitted from selling the assets at prices far below market levels. The People’s Daily commentary came after Sunday’s announcement of a reform blueprint that is more conservative about the pace of introducing private capital into state firms. One researcher at a top government academy said it appeared policymakers had not forgotten the painful lessons learned following the huge losses as a result of the earlier spin-off of SOE assets. In late 2013 a key party political meeting discussing the overhaul of state-sector companies had pledged that future reforms would include proactively” fostering a mixed-capital structure in SOEs. However, the wording was changed to reforming “in an orderly fashion”, in the annual Report on the Work of the Government published this March. The reform guidelines officially released on Sunday said only that it would pursue changes in capital structure “gradually”, without setting any specific deadlines for the changes. “Deepening the reform of state-owned companies … should not cause the loss of state assets,” the People’s Daily said in the commentary published on its front page. “It should not be an opportunity for some to make a great fortune out of the nation’s assets.” “[We] must firmly defend the bottom line and ensure the state-owned economy’s control and influence is not weakened in key industries and fields,” it added. Strengthening the party’s leadership in state-owned companies was seen as a political safeguard of the reform, it said. The commentary repeated President Xi Jinping’s remarks in March, at a meeting during the annual National People’s Congress. “We should learn lessons from past reforms of state-owned companies," Xi said at a meeting with delegates from Anhui province. “It should not be an opportunity for some to make a great fortune out of national assets amid the wave of reform.” Zhang Chunxiao, a researcher at Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Governance , said it appeared policymakers were still smarting from the painful lessons learned following the reform of state-owned companies in the 1990s, when corrupt officials carried out deals – buying assets at prices that were sometimes far above and also well below market process. “Some officials, for their own interests … sold national assets at low prices – even giving them away for free – causing great losses of national assets,” Zhang told China Business News . Similar problems were found to still exist at state-owned companies after investigations by anti-graft officials, he said. The investigation found problems, including officials using SOE funds to buy national resources from cronies at higher prices than market rates – then later selling them on to other cronies at prices well below market rates, Zhang said. People were had been making huge profits – and SOEs suffering huge losses – from improper bidding and purchasing of national assets, he said.