China is marking the 30th anniversary of what it calls its "reform and opening program", which is the economic development path that is credited with helping the country grow.  Although Chinese leaders vow to continue with economic reforms, they also stress the overall importance of maintaining social stability. 

Chinese President Hu Jintao drew on the spirit of late leader Deng Xiaoping, who coined the phrase "to get rich is glorious."  Deng is credited with the 1978 launch of the economic reforms that propelled China on a path of rapid growth and prosperity.

President Hu praised Mr. Deng's reform and opening program, saying China hopes to continue its past success, in the future.

Economic development is main focus

Hu says making economic development the government's main focus is the key to national rejuvenation.  He says economic development is also crucial for the ruling Communist Party and for China to maintain prosperity and stability.

At the same time, he indicates there will continue to be a strong state role in guiding market reforms.

The Chinese president spoke, Thursday, before a full house of current and former officials,  gathered in Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

President promises more social equity

Hu says the government's efforts to cope with the global economic downturn are working and he renewed his promise to create a more equal society.  He also stressed the importance of maintaining social stability - an issue that is taking on increasing importance as export-driven factories shut down and unemployment rises.

On the political front, the Chinese leader called on officials to meet the needs of citizens, but he rejected any notion of Western style democratic liberalization.

Hu says China must draw on what he describes as "the beneficial fruits of political civilization," but will never copy the Western political model.

This point was underscored by Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao, who was asked China's position on the European Parliament's decision to award its top human rights prize to jailed Chinese dissident Hu Jia. 

No relief in sight for activists      

Liu says China will continue to follow its path of what he called "socialism with Chinese characteristics," regardless of the European Parliament's actions.

Meanwhile, China has dealt harshly with the more than 300 activists who signed the '08 Charter, a manifesto made public last week that calls for legal reform and more democracy.

Dozens of the signatories have already been briefly detained or harassed.  And, more than one week ago, police detained one of the most prominent organizers, dissident writer Liu Xiaobo.  He remains in custody.