December 9, 2008 / 2:58 PM / 10 years ago

China pulls money-spinning economic reform expo

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has scotched plans for an exhibition lauding the country’s embrace of freewheeling capitalism over the last 30 years after discovering organizers had used it to collect “sponsorship fees” from local companies.

China this month celebrates the 30th anniversary of the start of “reform and opening up” in 1978 which unleashed market-oriented reforms that have transformed the country from an impoverished backwater into the world’s fourth-largest economy.

Organizers of the exhibition in southern Hunan province had irked local authorities by inviting companies to pay 60,000 - 90,000 yuan ($8,700 - $13,000) to be named one of “10 big representative private companies” of the era, Tuesday’s Beijing News said.

Organizers had also used the name of the provincial government’s Economic Committee without its authorization to drum up interest in the event, which had “created an extremely negative impact,” the paper said, quoting a statement from the committee.

The organizers’ entrepreneurial chutzpah had prompted a provincial branch of the official Communist Party watchdog to cancel the event and launch a probe, the paper said.

Organizers confirmed the exhibition had been shelved, citing “conflicts between (it) and other Hunan government-organized exhibitions,” among other reasons.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Nick Macfie

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