China's Xi says state industry the backbone of economy amid reforms

BEIJING: China's state-owned enterprises are the backbone of the economy and the government must "avoid the blindness of the market" even as it pursues reform, President Xi Jinping said in remarks published in state media.

The government must have confidence in the state-owned enterprise (SOE) system, Xi said on a trip to the northeastern province of Jilin, adding that reform also meant following the rules of the market economy to enable SOEs to become more competitive and contend with risk, according to an online report by the official Xinhua news agency.

Xi made the remarks on Friday on a trip to the northeastern province of Jilin, where he met workers.

The government is working to boost the competitiveness of SOEs, whose inefficiency is one of the country's thorniest quandaries.

A number of SOEs have embarked on reforms by diversifying ownership to include more non-state investors, seen as helping combat official corruption, as well as pushing mergers and restructuring.

Corruption inspectors have turned their attention this year to government-owned industries, which has long been plagued by underperformance despite reform efforts by the leadership.