BEIJING - China's ruling Communist Party on Sunday said it would seek to expand its massive internal market to counter the global economic slowdown that has reduced international demand for Chinese goods.

The party, led by President Hu Jintao, released a statement at the end of a four-day meeting of its Central Committee, where it also approved a plan aimed at doubling rural incomes by 2020.

"We should step up efforts to boost domestic demand, particularly domestic consumption and keep the economy, the financial sector and the capital market stable," the party said in a statement released through the official Xinhua News Agency.

The party also said all members should prepare for greater challenges as the global financial crisis unfolds.

China faces difficulties from high energy costs and inflation, but officials say the country has growth potential despite global uncertainties because of its large labor pool, vast domestic market and the increasing competitiveness of its companies.

For the country's farmers, the party said it aims to double their income -- currently about $590 per person a year -- over 12 years to ease the growing and politically explosive gulf with the urban elite.

State news reports ahead of the meeting suggested that policy changes also might allow China's 800 million rural dwellers to engage in the unrestricted trade or sale of land-use contracts that are given to them by the government. But the final statement did not mention the issue.