China marks 30th anniversary of economic reform

December 18th, 2008 - 4:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Dec 18 (Xinhua) China Thursday marked the 30th anniversary of the start of its economic reforms and opening-up drive, with President Hu Jintao calling for continuing the process that turned the once poverty-stricken country into one of the world’s largest economies.”China’s significant changes over the past 30 years have proved that the direction and path of reform and opening-up are completely correct,” Hu said in a speech during a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People here.

Given the current world situation, especially the escalation and spread of the international financial crisis, China must continue to firmly focus on economic development, he told an audience of more than 6,000, including top leaders of the country.

“Since the reform and opening up, the fundamental reason for all the achievements and progress we have made has been our creation and development of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” he said.

The ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, the seat of the country’s legislature, was organised to mark the 30th year of the third plenary session of the Communist Party that endorsed small-scale private farming as the first step towards China’s economic reforms and abandoning Mao Zedong’s vision of communal agriculture and industry.

The decision to open up the once-secluded country and reform its moribund economy was made at the plenary session on Dec 18, 1978. The planning and execution of the reform was led by Deng Xiaoping, who is regarded as the chief architect of China’s economic transformation.

Hu said the meeting 30 years ago ushered in a new historic period of reform and opening-up, marking the most significant turning point in the Communist party’s history since the New China was founded in 1949.

China has maintained an average annual growth rate of 9.8 percent over the past three decades, more than three times the world average.

Gross domestic product soared from 360 billion yuan (about $52 billion at current rates) in 1978 to 24.95 trillion yuan in 2007, making China the world’s fourth-largest economy.

Hu said the past 30 years were a period in which China’s national strength rose by a big margin, and the Chinese people have received more tangible benefits than ever before.

“Reform and opening-up are the fundamental causes of all the achievements and progress we have made,” Hu said.

But Hu also cautioned the party and the Chinese people not to become content with their achievements and stop moving forward.

Hu said China still faced many challenges, including a weak agricultural foundation and less-developed rural areas. The nation’s ability to innovate new things is also weak.

“We must adhere to the correct direction of reform and opening-up so as to build a system that is full of vigour, highly efficient, more open and has a favourable environment for scientific development,” he said.

He also suggested that the reform of the political system be pushed in pace with economic reforms.

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