China's grand makeover plan a work in progress; fuzzy on implementation
By Kevin Yao and Benjamin Kang Lim
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's leaders will lay out plans to transform the world's second-largest economy at a key party meeting in November, leaving the question of how to do it largely unanswered as much of the reform agenda is still a matter of heated internal debate.
People familiar with the discussions say that out of a long list of reforms that the Communist Party's 200-member Central Committee is set to announce, only a mooted financial overhaul has reached a point where there is a plan and a roadmap.
Fiscal, land and residency registration reform - all key ingredients of China's declared goal of boosting its urban population - are the major sticking points as politicians debate how to implement the changes and as they also face resistance from powerful interest groups, such as state-owned monopolies.
Still, the November meeting, the third plenary session of the Communist Party's top body, is being billed as a watershed for China's development, just like one in 1978 when Deng Xiaoping unveiled his historic reforms to open China to the rest of the world or in 1993 when the party endorsed a "socialist" market economy.
"The meeting will deepen reforms in all fronts," said a senior economist with a government think-tank in Beijing, which has been involved in drafting the reform blueprint.
"The focus will be economic reforms - financial reform, tax and fiscal reform, resource pricing reform, and there will be reforms in related areas, such as social welfare and income distribution," said the economist who declined to be identified because discussions of reform plans remain confidential.
The changes will layout how China intends to overhaul the economy to allow greater domestic consumption to drive growth, shifting away from an exports- and investment-led model that Beijing says has run its course after three decades of breakneck expansion.
A major part of that is an urbanization plan aimed at drawing hundreds of millions of Chinese to live in towns and cities. But to do that, China needs to overhaul land and household registration policies that currently make many rural Chinese reluctant to move. Continued...