Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the third plenary session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, in Beijing. Photo: AP
Beijing: China’s top leaders have concluded a landmark four-day conference by promising wide-ranging reforms that will give markets a “decisive” role in the economy.
The core issue is to straighten out the relationship between government and the market
They have also signalled plans to establish a new state security committee to ensure national security.
The moves were among the first reported by state media in a communiqué and a lengthy broadcast on prime-time television news after the closed-door meeting ended on Tuesday.
The ruling Communist Party said in its communiqué that it aimed to achieve “decisive results” by 2020 – with economic reforms at the centre of its focus.
"The core issue is to straighten out the relationship between government and the market, allowing the market to play a decisive role in allocating resources and improving the government's role," the party said in its statement.
President Xi Jinping and other senior leaders had billed the gathering, the Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee, as a key milestone in the next stage of China’s economic growth, promising profound and ambitious economic and social reforms.
Much of the information contained in the early reports was ambitious in tone but skint on detail, with a detailed report on policy measures expected in the next week.
Among the key highlights were highly-anticipated comments around more land rights for rural residents, and hukou, or household registration, reform – both the source of major social problems in China. “Land in cities and the countryside, which can be used for construction, will be pooled in one market,” official news agency Xinhua reported.
There were also signals toward significant judicial and social reforms and the building of a “fairer society”, including the “legal authority to uphold the constitution” and “improving human rights legal protections”.
Among other economic changes included financial and tax reform and improving the relationship between the government and the markets.
The detailed policy measures will also be closely scanned for any mention of changes to China’s long-standing one-child policy.
Speculation has mounted in the lead-up to the plenum that China will relax the population control measure to allow those who are only-childs themselves to have a second child.
Existing rules allow couples who are both only-childs to have a second child.
The ageing demographics and shrinking workforce of China, exacerbated by the existing one-child policy, has been just one headache in China’s slowing economy.
China is under pressure to replace a growth model heavy reliant on investment and exports, which has seen its economy grow exponentially in the past three decades to become the second-largest economy in the world.
Advocates of reform have called on Beijing to open up a number of state-dominated sectors to competition.
The tone of the outcomes of the plenum appear to support this, but any moves to curb the privileges of entrenched vested interests benefiting from the status quo is likely to be met with strong resistance.