China's President has promised to deepen economic and financial reforms and further open its markets to foreign investors as it looks to move from high-speed to high-quality growth. David Pollard reports.
The world's second largest economy merits, perhaps, a speech to match. And at nearly three and a half hours, President Xi certainly delivered on size. Nor was it short on vision for a 'new era' - a phrase he used 36 times. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE PRESIDENT XI JINPING, SAYING: "(We will) push forward the establishment of a new situation of complete openness. Openness brings progress, closing yourself off will inevitably lead to falling behind. China's open door will never close, it will only be opened further." That pledge matched with others on reform of China foreign exchange and financial systems. The government, he said, to 'clean up' practices that hinder fair competition. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINA'S PRESIDENT XI JINPING, SAYING: "The future is extremely bright, but the challenges are also extremely serious." Though analysts also noted a still strong emphasis on state control - with rather less strength in detail on his other promises. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR FX STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, JANE FOLEY, SAYING: "We have seen those reassurances before ..... We perhaps have got to give China the benefit of the doubt at this point but we do need to see proper reform measures, legislative action taken to really put in concrete some of the proposals that we are hearing." But though this party Congress - China's five-yearly set-piece political event - started in driving rain .... The outlook does look auspicious. SOUNDBITE (English) IG SENIOR ANALYST, CHRIS BEAUCHAMP, SAYING: "We continue to keep an eye on Chinese data to see if anything is moving in the right direction. But broadly it really is." China expected to post its strongest growth in several years this year. If China's debt mountain is still a concern. Ratings agency S&P said this week it had only taken 'baby steps' to contain a rapid build-up. Bigger steps were needed, it said, from Asia's giant.