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Politics of China

China has unveiled a series of reforms aimed at overhauling its economy over the next decade.

In a statement issued after a closed-door summit, the Chinese leaders promised the free market would play a bigger role.

A new committee will oversee internal security to guard against social unrest, and farmers will be given more property rights over their land.

The leaders will now have to persuade officials below them to implement the reforms.

The so-called Third Plenum talks began in Beijing last week, and ended with a brief communique outlining areas that had been agreed on.

Details of what was agreed are still emerging.

The Communist Party leaders said markets would be allowed to play a leading role. State ownership would remain a pillar of the economy.

“The core issue is to straighten out the relationship between government and the market, allowing the market to play a decisive role in allocating resources and improving the government’s role,” the statement said, Reuters news agency reports.

The Communist Party is vowing to carry out deep reforms across the economy and the government to reach a “new stage of development”.

A lengthy television story heading China’s flagship state newscast showed rows of Communist Party officials, including Chairman Xi Jinping, sitting at long tables studying paper documents in front of them.

The report contained a long list of vague party pledges – from a plan to create a modern military to one that encourages foreign investment in China’s coastal cities. Other changes include promises to institute stronger systems to check corruption.

China has unveiled a series of reforms aimed at overhauling its economy over the next decade

China has unveiled a series of reforms aimed at overhauling its economy over the next decade

Ahead of the meeting another area expected to be discussed was China’s household registration system.

The meeting was being closely watched after senior Communist Party official Yu Zhengsheng said last month that “unprecedented” economic and social reforms would be discussed at the meeting.

Analysts did not expect any political reforms to be on the agenda.

How successful the reforms turn out to be remains to be seen.

It will take time to assess their impact.

And where economic or social reforms are agreed, local officials and groups with vested interests may be reluctant to implement them, correspondents say.

Third Plenums refer to the third time new leaders of China lead a plenary session of the Central Committee. They generally take place a year after new leaders take office, after they have established their power base.

Previous Third Plenums have had a major impact on China’s development.

At the Third Plenum in 1978, former leader Deng Xiaoping announced the opening-up of China’s economy, spearheading major market-oriented reforms.

In 1993’s Third Plenum, former leader Zhu Rongji announced the “socialist market economy” and dismantled a large part of China’s state-owned sector.

Security was tight in Beijing for the meeting, with tensions higher than usual in the wake of an incident on 28 October in Tiananmen Square and bomb blasts in the north of the country days after.

Five people were killed in what Chinese officials called a “terrorist attack” incited by extremists from the western region of Xinjiang when a car drove through crowds and burst into flames near an entrance to the Forbidden City.

Less than a week later, a series of small blasts killed at least one person outside a provincial office of the ruling Communist Party in Shanxi province.

China’s Third Plenum:

  • The Third Plenum was the third meeting of the Xi Jinping-led 18th Central Committee
  • Traditionally reforms are expected at the Third Plenum, because new leaders are seen as having had time to consolidate power
  • The tradition was begun by Deng Xiaoping in 1978 when he opened China’s doors to the world
  • The meeting took place behind closed doors and ran from November 9 to 12 [youtube 78PJ4POCmgE 650]

Shandong court in China has rejected the appeal of former politician Bo Xilai and upheld his life sentence for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.

The former Chongqing Communist Party leader was convicted of the charges in September.

Bo Xilai was removed from office in 2012 amid a scandal which saw his wife Gu Kailai convicted of a British businessman’s murder.

The high court in Shandong, the province where Bo Xilai’s trial was held, accepted his appeal earlier this month.

“The facts of the first instance verdict are clear, the evidence is reliable, sufficient and the sentence is appropriate,” the high court said in its ruling, which was posted on its website.

“The court rules as follows: reject the appeal, uphold the original verdict. This verdict is the final ruling.”

The hearing appeared to have been brief, with the verdict coming about an hour after a convoy believed to be carrying Bo Xilai was seen arriving at the court.

Footage from state broadcaster CCTV showed Bo Xilai’s elder son, Li Wangzhi, in court with other relatives.

Shandong court has rejected the appeal of Bo Xilai and upheld his life sentence for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power

Shandong court has rejected the appeal of Bo Xilai and upheld his life sentence for bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power

Bo Xilai only receives one chance to appeal and his sentence is now final. He could submit a complaint to the Supreme People’s Court in Beijing, but the vast majority of such complaints are rejected and do not result in another trial.

Correspondents said few expected Bo Xilai’s conviction to be overturned. The courts are controlled by the ruling Communist Party, from which Bo Xilai was expelled from last year.

Bo Xilai, the charismatic former party chief in the city of Chongqing in south-western China, was a member of the powerful politburo – one of the 25 most senior party officials in the country.

But he was removed from office last year amid a scandal which began when his deputy, Wang Lijun, sought refuge in the US consulate in Chengdu.

The incident prompted an investigation into the death of British businessman Neil Heywood.

Bo Xilai’s wife, Gu Kailai, was eventually convicted of Neil Heywood’s murder – a crime caused, the court said, by a financial dispute.

Wang Lijun was also jailed for 15 years for helping Gu Kailai cover up the murder.

Bo Xilai himself was found guilty of taking bribes amounting to 20 million yuan ($3.3 million) either personally or through his family. He was also accused of abusing his office by using his position to cover up for his wife’s crime.

His supporters, however, believe he is the victim of a political purge. His downfall came as China prepared for its once-in-a-decade leadership transfer, as one generation of leaders made way for the next.

Bo Xilai had been seen as a candidate for the very top, until his fall from grace. It was the biggest political shake-up to hit China’s ruling elite in decades.

The final verdict in the Bo Xilai case comes weeks before the Communist Party holds a major meeting in November to set economic policy.

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