China Communist Party concludes 'reform' meeting

BEIJING (AFP) - China's Communist Party concluded a closely watched meeting on Tuesday and has approved a decision on "comprehensively deepening reforms", state media reported.

The official Xinhua news agency, in a brief dispatch, announced the close of the four-day meeting, known as the Third Plenum.

The meeting, which brings together all 376 members of the ruling party's Central Committee and takes place amid intense security and secrecy, has traditionally set the economic tone for a new government.

A decision on "major issues concerning comprehensively deepening reforms" was approved, Xinhua said.

Citing a communique, Xinhua said that the market will play a "decisive" role in the allocation of resources, though it did not elaborate.

China will establish a state security committee, it said, again without immediately giving any further details.

Mr Xi Jinping, the party general secretary, also delivered what Xinhua described as a "work report".

The meeting is seen as setting the course for the world's second-largest economy over the next decade and comes a year after China embarked on a once-a-decade leadership change, with Mr Xi taking over as party chief in November and then state president in March this year.

China has in the past used the meetings to signal major changes in policy, most notably at a Third Plenum in 1978, when it embarked on the landmark drive that has seen it transformed over the past three decades from a Communist-style command economy into a key driver of global growth, trade and investment.

Over the course of the four-day meeting Chinese state media repeatedly raised the prospect of major reforms.

In a front-page editorial, party mouthpiece the People's Daily praised past economic reforms for bringing prosperity to the world's most populous country and called for more.

But analysts have dampened expectations, saying they anticipate a broad blueprint instead, and that pressures for change are not yet sufficient to force radical reforms.

The meeting comes after China's economy racked up its worst growth rate in 13 years in 2012, expanding at an annual rate of 7.7 per cent.