China's top leaders have ordered an all-out public relations drive to improve the country's tarnished image abroad, official reports said Saturday.

"They discussed how to better present China to the rest of the world under the present situation," the official Xinhua News Agency said.It apparently was referring to lingering criticism of the army's attack in June 1989 on student-led demonstrators for democratic reform. Although industrialized democracies have begun softening sanctions against China, foreign tourism and investment remain down.

Five of the six members of the Communist Party's Standing Committee took up the image-building issue at a closed-door meeting at the Great Hall of the People with delegates from around the country.

Party Secretary Jiang Zemin, Premier Li Peng and committee member Li Ruihuan made important speeches during the meeting, Xinhua said. The report did not provide details of their speeches.

Xinhua said Standing Committee members Song Ping and Qiao Shi also met with delegates at the five-day meeting on overseas publicity. The report did not mention Yao Yilin, the other member of the party's top decision-making committee.

"The delegates agreed that, in view of the situation, more efforts should be made to better present China to the rest of the world in order to acquaint people more with the country and thereby increase their understanding," Xinhua said.

"They all agreed that foreigners and overseas Chinese are very different from people in China."