Beijing: China will make new strides in 2014 to deepen reforms to make the world`s second largest economy rich and strong, President Xi Jinping vowed on Tuesday.
In his first New Year address to the nation, Xi expressed confidence in China`s future reforms to combat a slowing economy.
"In 2013, we made an overall arrangement on comprehensively deepening reform, drawing a grand blueprint for the country`s future development," Xi said in his address telecast live.
"In 2014, we will make new strides along the path of reform," Xi, also General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), said.
The fundamental purpose of the reform is to make the country rich and strong, the society fair and just and people`s lives better, the 60-year-old leader was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
"We have made numerous glories in the great cause of reform and opening-up. I firmly believe that new glories will be awaiting the Chinese people," he said in his message.
Xi`s statement came a day after he was named by the Politburo of the CPC to head a `leading group` for overall reform.
Overall growth is slowing in China. The country is estimated to post 7.6 percent GDP for 2013, just above the government`s official target of 7.5 percent, state media reported last week. That compares with 7.8 percent last year, 9.3 percent in 2011 and 10.4 percent in 2010.
China last month announced its boldest set of reforms in nearly three decades, relaxing its strict one-child policy and further liberalising markets to stabilise the economy.
The leading group will be in charge of "designing reform on an overall basis, arranging and coordinating reform, pushing forward reform as a whole, and supervising the implementation of reform plans," a document issued by the CPC said.
It will research and decide on major guidelines, policies and schemes for systematic reform in economic, political, cultural, social and environmental sectors as well as the Party system, the document said. The group will lead major reforms at the national level and address major issues with nationwide significance and long-term effect. It will also guide, push forward and supervise the implementation of major reform policies, it said.
When explaining the reform blueprint to the plenary session in November, Xi had said that it is hard for certain or several departments to push forward such a complicated systematic reform so a higher level of leadership is needed.
The leading group will allow the Party play a better role of commanding the whole situation and coordinating the efforts of all quarters, he said.
Commenting on Xi`s appointment, Prof Xie Chuntao, with the Party School of the CPC, said that setting up the group is necessary because reform this time will be both unprecedented in scale and degree. A goal has been set to "achieve decisive results in the reform of key sectors by 2020."
To achieve this, an institution that exercises core leadership is essential because reform on such a large scale will involve not only government institutions but also those of the Party, legislature and judiciary, said Xie.
Experts also suggested that top-level design and leadership is very much needed in future reform to break entrenched vested interests and boost confidence.
Meanwhile, the People`s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party emphasised that "reform will remain the most striking note of the times in 2014”.
In an editorial to be published tomorrow, marking the start of the new year, it said the year 2014 marks the beginning of China`s great march of comprehensively deepening reform following a key CPC meeting held last November, which put forward a reform blueprint for the country.
The editorial hailed the country`s achievements in economic and social development, its efforts in economic restructuring, its space technology breakthrough as indicated by the landing of the rover on the Moon, as well as its brave and decisive move in fighting corruption in 2013.
"China is still in the preliminary stage of socialism and will long remain so. Its international status is still not well established and its development environment is not all peaceful," the editorial said.
In 2014, China should further free the people`s minds, free and develop its social productivity, free and enhance its vitality, seize opportunities, break ideological barriers with greater determination, and let more people benefit from the reform and opening up drive, it said.