Chinese leader cheers growth but talks down possible reform

Marion Dakers
CHINA’S outgoing President yesterday talked down the prospect of political reform as he prepared to hand over the reins of the country’s ruling Communist Party.

Hu Jintao said in a party summit speech that the world’s second-largest economy has “held high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics and neither taken the old and rigid closed-door policy nor taken the wrong path of changing the banner”.

He said China should “deepen the form of state-owned enterprises” but pointed towards making the renminbi exchange rate “more market-based”.

Hu added in a two-hour speech that Chinese firms should speed up international expansion, following the likes of CNOOC in making global acquisitions.

He also issued a stark warning against the corruption that has dogged his party, most recently in the expulsion of Bo Xilai, once tipped as a leadership candidate, amid allegations he hushed up his wife’s murder of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Hu will be replaced by Vice President Xi Jinping at the close of the Communist Party congress.