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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 February 2007, 09:31 GMT
China PM warns on social justice
Wen Jiabao
Mr Wen said China was still a developing country
China's prime minister has warned of the need to make sure the country's rapid economic development does not come at the expense of social justice.

Wen Jiabao said they were "interrelated and mutually beneficial tasks" that would help create a harmonious society.

Mr Wen, in comments published by state media, also talked of the need for democracy, but said China's socialist system was still at a "primary stage".

His remarks come in a year full of significant political meetings.

The annual sessions of China's top legislature and national advisory body are due to open separately in a few days time.

The crucial five-yearly Communist Party Congress will meet later in the year, and is expected to usher in changes to the country's top leadership.

'World peace'

Mr Wen, in an article published by state media, said China was "still far from walking out of the primary stage of socialism and remains a developing country".

He said China must encourage reform and innovation to help it develop, but must not allow that to be at the expense of fairness and social justice.

YEAR OF POLITICAL MEETINGS
3 March: CPPCC, top political advisory body
5 March: National Peoples' Congress, top legislative body
Autumn: Communist Party Congress, 2,000 delegates decide on top-level changes

The prime minister also said China would develop democracy "in its own way", arguing that a "highly-developed democracy and a complete legal system are inherent requirements of the socialist system".

"The country has the full capacity to establish a nation of democracy governed by laws within the framework of a socialist system," he was quoted as saying.

China is one of the world's fastest-growing major economies, but there is also a growing gap between rich and poor.

The gulf has been felt particularly by people in the countryside who are not seeing the benefits that those in the cities are experiencing.

Mr Wen also spoke about China's desire to "observe an international foreign policy of peace".

He said the aim was for a "peaceful international environment for China's development and meanwhile boost world peace through China's development".

Last week, US Vice-President Dick Cheney criticised China for its military build-up and recent anti-satellite weapons test, saying they went against Beijing's stated peaceful aims.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang responded directly to Mr Cheney's comments on Tuesday, insisting: "China adheres to the role of peaceful development. We are an important force for maintaining peace and stability."




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