Chinese state firms say reform should mean more growth

Fri Nov 9, 2012 8:22am EST
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By Charlie Zhu and Lucy Hornby

BEIJING (Reuters) - China's big state-owned enterprises argued for continued expansion on Friday, echoing outgoing President Hu Jintao's comments urging more investment in major government firms and curtailing hopes of reform in the bloated sector.

Party delegates spent day two of the 18th Communist Party Congress holding public debates on Hu's speech at which they read out bits that they particularly liked. Reuters reporters heard no one disagreeing with what Hu said in a nearly two-hour-long speech.

At the opening of the congress on Thursday, Hu stressed the importance of continued one-party rule and how it was threatened by corruption, a reference to the downfall of one-time high-flying politician Bo Xilai.

He also suggested a further strengthening of the state in strategic sectors, with the possibility of more market-oriented competition in other sectors.

"The direction of the SOE (state-owned enterprise) reform should be: SOEs must be more market-oriented and they must keep strengthening their vitality and influence," Wang Yong, the head of a commission on supervising and administering state-owned assets, told reporters.

"Scholars may have different views, but that's the development need of the enterprises and the state."

Hu had said on Thursday that Beijing must "unwaveringly consolidate and develop the public sector of the economy".

"(We should) invest more state capital in major industries in key fields that comprise the lifeline of the economy and are vital to national security."   Continued...

The Great Hall of the People, the venue of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, is pictured in Beijing, November 9, 2012. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic