China Communist Party vows to deepen reforms at key meeting

BEIJING - China's Communist Party promised to deepen economic reforms to give the market a "decisive" role in allocating resources, state media reported Tuesday at the end of a closely-watched meeting.

The official Xinhua news agency announced the close of the gathering, known as the Third Plenum, which brings together all 376 members of the ruling party's Central Committee and takes place amid intense security and secrecy.

It has traditionally set the economic tone for a new government, but while state media repeatedly raised prospects of major reforms over the course of the four-day meeting, analysts have played down expectations.

"The core issue is to properly handle the relationship between the government and the market so as to allow the market to play a decisive role in allocating resources and the government to better play its role," Xinhua cited a communique as saying, but did not give specific measures.

China will "push forward land reform and give farmers more property rights", it said, including having one market for development land in both cities and the countryside.

"Both public and non-public sectors of the economy are important components of the socialist market economy and significant bases for economic and social development," Xinhua cited the document as saying.

State broadcaster CCTV showed serried ranks of officials seated at lines of desks in a cavernous hall, raising their hands in unison.

The 25 members of the party's Politburo sat in a row at the front, with general secretary Xi Jinping in the middle, in front of a giant Communist hammer and sickle and 10 red flags.

Central committee members were shown studiously reading their documents and taking notes.

A state security committee will be set up to "improve systems and strategies to ensure national security", Xinhua cited the document as saying, two weeks after a fiery attack in Tiananmen Square, the symbolic centre of the Chinese state.

The communique pointed out the need to "effectively prevent and end social disputes and improve public security", Xinhua said.

Again there were no details.

"The Party must give full play to its core role of commanding the whole situation and coordinating the efforts of all quarters, and improve the leadership and governance to ensure the success of reform," the agency added.

Xi delivered a "work report" to the meeting, Xinhua said.

The Third Plenum is seen as setting the course for the world's second largest economy over the next decade.

It comes a year after China embarked on a once-a-decade leadership change, with Xi taking over as party chief in November and then state president in March this year.

China has in the past used the meetings to signal major changes in policy, most notably in 1978 when it embarked on the landmark transformation from a Communist-style command economy into a key driver of global growth, trade and investment.

In a front-page editorial during the meeting, party mouthpiece the People's Daily praised past economic reforms for bringing prosperity to the world's most populous country and called for more.

But analysts said they anticipate a broad blueprint instead of specific measures, with pressures for change not yet strong enough to force radical reforms.

China's economy in 2012 registered its worst growth rate for 13 years, expanding at an annual rate of 7.7 per cent.