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Jiang Opens Chinese Communist Party Congress - 2002-11-08

China's President Jiang Zemin opened the 16th Communist Party Congress by calling for talks with Taiwan and urging the country to quadruple its economic output. Mr. Jiang also proposed sweeping changes for the party as he prepares to step down as its head.

President Jiang Zemin stood before a backdrop of red flags and banners Friday to deliver what may be his last speech as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.

Speaking to more than 2,000 delegates from across China, Mr. Jiang describes his theory called the "Three Represents". It aims to broaden the party to include entrepreneurs. Mr. Jiang calls on the party to expand its backbone, by recruiting workers, farmers, intellectuals and technicians as members.

The week-long congress is expected to change the party's constitution to include Mr. Jiang's theory in its doctrine.

Mr. Jiang also used more moderate language to describe the traditionally tense relationship between China and rival Taiwan. He said the two sides should put aside their political differences and resume talks. But he added that Beijing would not renounce the use of force to recover the island, which it considers part of its territory.

Mr. Jiang adds that China will continue to develop its economy. He says the country will aim to quadruple its gross domestic product in the next 20 years, try to raise rural incomes and lower unemployment, modernize its military, and fight terrorism and corruption.

Mr. Jiang and other top leaders are expected to step down from their Communist Party posts at the end of the congress, handing power to a younger generation. But Mr. Jiang's opening speech made no mention of the leadership changes.

Outside the Great Hall of the People where the congress is being held, Chinese police detained several women who scattered leaflets on Tiananmen Square, but there were few signs of other protests. Authorities have tightened security throughout Beijing, and closed off the normally crowded square.