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China's Xi Targets Economy [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2012-12-12 13:27:03 |Display all floors
By Jeremy Page | The Wall Street Journal – Mon, Dec 10, 2012

BEIJING—China's new leader, Xi Jinping, appeared to signal a commitment to further liberalizing the economy, and establishing a more accessible public image, when he made his first official visit as Communist Party chief to Shenzhen, the southern city that was an incubator for market reforms over three decades ago.

Mr. Xi's weekend visit was seen by many observers as a conscious emulation of a trip there in 1992 by Deng Xiaoping, then China's paramount leader, which reaffirmed his commitment to private enterprise despite opposition from Party conservatives .

Some analysts also saw Mr. Xi's visit as a tribute to his own father, Xi Zhongxun, a revolutionary hero who later championed the establishment of China's first "special economic zone"—offering tax and other perks to foreign investors—in Shenzhen in 1980.
Footage broadcast by the Hong Kong-based Phoenix television channel showed Mr. Xi presenting a wreath at a statue of Mr. Deng in Shenzhen, and then strolling through crowds and talking with four former officials who had accompanied Mr. Deng on his trip in 1992.

"The decision the party's central leadership made about opening up and reform was correct. Hereafter, we will still go down this correct road," Mr. Xi was shown telling a small crowd. "We must unswervingly take the road of enriching the nation, enriching the people, but we must also open it up even further," he said.

Mr. Xi didn't provide details of how or when the new seven-man party leadership, which took power last month, might attempt to further liberalize the economy in the face of resistance from state industry giants that dominate many key sectors.

Official figures released Sunday suggested China's leaders had shied away from reform and relied principally on boosting investment in infrastructure, especially subway spending, to improve the country's economic outlook in November and the coming quarters. Industrial output, the key monthly measure of China's growth, rose 10.1% year-to-year in November, up from 9.6% in October and the strongest since March. Electricity production, a widely watched proxy for China's economic activity, accelerated to 7.9% growth from 6.4%.

Mr. Xi's visit to Shenzhen was seen as a positive signal to those who argue that China needs to dismantle state-sector monopolies, empower private business and invest more in social welfare in order to shift from an export-oriented growth model to one driven by domestic consumption.

When Mr. Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao, became Party chief in 2002, his first official visit was to the revolutionary base of Xibaipo, where he made a speech urging Party officials to recall the words of Chairman Mao Zedong.

In one departure from previous practice, Mr. Xi traveled around Shenzhen in a minibus without tinted windows, and with a minimal police escort and little disruption to local traffic, according to accounts and photographs on various Hong Kong and mainland Chinese news websites.

Mr. Xi had chaired a meeting Tuesday of the new Politburo—the party's top 25 leaders—which produced a list of instructions for Chinese officials on ways to scale down formalities and privilege.

Mr. Xi's adherence to those guidelines won him praise among many users of China's Twitter-like microblogging services,.

Shenzhen's traffic police said on its official microblog that it was the first time it hadn't closed any roads during a visit by a senior official. In another departure, China's main state media organs provided minimal coverage of the trip, but photographs of Mr. Xi smiling and waving from his minibus were circulated widely among Chinese microbloggers.

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