In his first public appearance in more than a year, China's most influential conservative voiced limited support for accelerating market reforms.

But in a meeting with Shanghai leaders publicized Saturday, Communist Party veteran Chen Yun withheld a full endorsement of senior leader Deng Xiaoping's reforms. Mr. Chen's remarks focused narrowly on developing the city of Shanghai. He tempered Marxist calls for "emancipating the mind" by stressing a down-to-earth approach.

Chen's appearance signals the political bargaining under way among China's leaders as the party prepares for a congress later this year, Shanghai sources say.

Analysts note that only days before Chen's statements, the state-run media paraphrased Deng as supporting the hard-line priority of political stability.

"The most important thing for China is stability," an April 28 commentary in the People's Daily paraphrased Deng as saying. "If necessary, all possible means will be adopted to eliminate any turmoil."

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