The centerpiece of the congress opening, a lengthy speech by Hu, is an uncertain indicator of where the new leadership wants to take China. In the early decades of reform, such speeches provided ideological cover as the party tried to break away from the dogma of central planning and experiment with freer markets. More recently, the documents have become ways for past leaders to constrain their heirs by stressing continuity.
In a preview of the speech given to senior officials in July and excerpted and analyzed in state media, Hu stressed the economy remains key. He said getting growth back to a relatively high rate remained crucial to meeting demands from the public — most clearly evidenced by large-scale strikes and protests, or what he called "contradictions."
Cai, the congress spokesman, ticked off a list of what Hu's team had accomplished — wider access to state-supported education through the ninth grade, an expanded social safety net and the start of a nationwide low-cost housing sector.
"The past decade has witnessed the greatest improvement in people's livelihoods in the history of China's development," Cui said. "We will make guaranteeing and improving the people's well-being the guide and aim of what we do."
Associated Press writers Gillian Wong, Christopher Bodeen and Didi Tang contributed to this report.
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