All eyes will be on Beijing this weekend as the country’s governing Communist Party draws up its next five-year-plan for the economy.
The agenda is secret. But closing the gap between rich and poor is thought to be a priority.
Despite China’s remarkable economic growth recent disputes over pay have challenged the party’s authority.
The meeting comes amid renewed scrutiny of human rights in China.
A letter signed by 23 senior party members calls for an end to censorship.
Activist Huang Zelong said: “China must open up to freedom of speech and implement the legislation in the constitution. If we continue without the right to free speech, this country will suffer great upheavals. For the country and for people’s rights, the government should allow freedom of speech and never go back on it.”
The call comes just days after the jailed dissident Liu Xiabao was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.