China’s leaders to meet on economic reform

China’s leaders to meet on economic reform

BEIJING - China's new leadership holds a key meeting this weekend that state media are trumpeting as a likely "watershed" for economic reform, but analysts caution details of its decisions are likely to be vague and implementation gradual.

The four-day session of the full 376-strong Communist Party Central Committee begins Saturday at a closely-guarded private hotel in Beijing.

Known as the Third Plenum, it traditionally sets the economic tone for a government's five-year term.

In the past, such meetings have been used to signal far-reaching changes in how China does business, and state-run media say that anticipation has been building.

The official Xinhua news agency proclaimed that the plenum "is expected to be a watershed as drastic economic policies will be unveiled".

Other reports have singled out land reform as a key issue, while a government think-tank called for dismantling the residency registration system known as hukou, which restricts access to medical insurance and other benefits for migrants.

But analysts are largely unconvinced and say broad brushstrokes rather than firm details are likely to emerge from the meeting.

Cai Hongbin, a professor at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management, said key issues such as urbanisation, the social safety net, taxation and financial reforms would be discussed.

"But I don't see a sweeping policy package with many specific major policy changes basically across the spectrum," Cai told reporters, emphasising more time was needed given the complexity of the issues.

Precise measures were more likely to be included in China's 13th five-year plan, to be announced in 2015, he said.

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