Communist Party Chairman Hu Yaobang today pledged that China's ruling elite would improve living standards of the average Chinese and continue the use of liberal economic measures to modernize the still underdeveloped nation.
In his political report to the party's National Congress meeting in Peking, Hu restated the government's goal of quadrupling the total value of industrial and agricultural output by the end of this century--a goal he said would elevate China to "the front ranks" of world economies and increase the well-being of its people.
Realizing that goal, he said, requires adherence to the economic reforms devised in recent years, including partial use of market forces to determine supply and demand, family farming and limited private enterprise.
China will continue to expand foreign trade, seek foreign investment and import advanced technology in its effort to develop its anemic economy, Hu said.
Although the speech was a rehash of existing policy, Hu's presentation before the first full meeting of the party in five years is seen as a significant move to guarantee smoother implementation of the policies at the lower levels of the party.
Economic reforms designed in Peking often are frustrated locally by dissident party members who remain loyal to the policies of total state ownership, rigid central planning, communal farming and self-reliance in foreign policy emphasized until the death of former chairman Mao Tse-tung.
Hu warned against any deviance from current policies, saying that diversified forms of economy are necessary to spur production. In agriculture, he added, the system of family farming, which has boosted output in recent years, is here to stay.
"In no case should any rash changes be made against the will of the masses, still less should there be any backtracking," he said, apparently referring to a recent Maoist backlash in the countryside.
Maoist egalitarians find abhorrent the emergence of small entrepreneurs in the cities and wealthy peasants in rural areas. Families are now allowed to keep everything they produce beyond a prearranged quota.
Hu made it clear that the current liberal economic policies are needed to help China reach the goal of producing annually $1.5 trillion worth of agricultural and industrial goods by the year 2000.
"It will represent an important advance in the modernization of China's national economy and increase the income of its urban and rural population several times over," the Communist leader said. "And, the Chinese people will be comparatively well-off both materially and culturally."
The government is committed to raising the average annual income of its people to the equivalent of $1,000 by the end of the century. The current national average is $280 per person.
Although the present government has brought some relief to people's lives in recent years, living standards remain "fairly low," Hu said. In rural areas hit by natural disaster or poor farming conditions, peasants are quite poor, he added.
As a remedy, the state will help raise output and incomes of the peasantry while coming to the aid of urban dwellers with more housing, better public utilities and higher pay, he said.