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When the Third Plenary Session of China’s 18th Central Committee took place under heavy security at Beijing’s Jingxi Hotel last weekend, more than 500 participants discussed and set policy priorities for the Chinese Communist leadership for the next 10 years.

The main topic was China’s foundering growth rate, which came in last year at 7.7 per cent. That was its lowest increase in 13 years, and prospects appear remote for any rebound in 2014. Many Chinese economists accept the rule of thumb that 8 per cent growth is necessary to maintain economic stability, so there is a lot of pressure on President Xi Jinping to be seen as taking steps to arrest the economic slowdown

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