Asia-Pacific News

China pledges 'decisive' role for markets in reform push

China Plenum reforms disappoint investors

China's ruling party pledged to let markets play a "decisive" role in allocating resources as it unveiled a reform agenda for the next decade on Tuesday, looking to overhaul the world's second-largest economy to drive future growth.

China aims to achieve "decisive results" by 2020, with economic changes a central focus of "comprehensive" reforms, the ruling Communist Party said in a statement released by the official Xinhua news agency at the end of a four-day closed-door meeting of the party's 205-member Central Committee.

In previous policy statements, the Communist Party had often described markets as playing a "basic" role in allocating resources, Xinhua said, meaning the new language amounts to an upgrading of its role.

President Xi Jinping and Premier LiKeqiang must unleash new growth drivers as the economy, after three decades of breakneck expansion,begins to sputter, burdened by industrial over capacity, piles of debt and eroding competitiveness.

China's Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
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Out of a long list of areas that the meeting was expected to tackle, most analysts have singled out a push towards a greater role of markets in the financial sector and reforms to public finances as those most likely to get immediate attention.

Historically, such third plenary sessions of a newly installed Central Committee have acted as a springboard for key economic reforms and this one will also serve as a first test of the new leadership's commitment to reform.

The meeting has set a broad reform agenda. State agencies will now be left to work out the details to set the reforms in motion.

Some reforms could face stiff resistance from powerful interest groups such as local governments or state-owned monopolies, people involved in reform discussions have said.