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Institutional restructuring of gov´t revs up China´s overall reform

Source: Xinhua | 03-16-2008 17:20

Special Report:   2008 NPC & CPPCC sessions

BEIJING, March 15 (Xinhua) -- The train of China's reform and opening up got refueled on Saturday when the national legislature adopted a plan for institutional restructuring of the government.

The institutional restructuring plan, characterized by the establishment of five "super ministries" and changes in the functions of other government departments, signals the country's fresh effort to push forward reform of both economic and political systems, observers said.

After overcoming countless barriers and scoring great achievements in the reform during the last 30 years, China now faces some deeply-seated problems and has to make tremendous efforts for further progress.

The reform and opening-up drive, launched in late 1978, has helped the Chinese to get rid of poverty on the whole, and the nation is working to build a moderately prosperous society, which calls for streamlining the market and administrative systems.

"If the past reform was aimed at ensuring enough food and clothing for the people, it is now aimed at goals at a higher level," said Prof. Wang Yukai of the National School of Administration.

Prof. Wang, who has long been engaged in the study of reform of the administrative system, said the endorsement of the institutional restructuring plan kicked off a new-round reform of China's administrative system.

In fact, institutional restructuring of the government has been tried in a few localities over the past few years and encouraging progress has been reported.

Seven years ago, Shenzhen, the pacesetter of China's reform and opening up, started pioneering in the restructuring of its administrative departments.

"We concentrate the administration of marine, land and air transport in the Transportation Bureau, industry and domestic and foreign trade in the Trade and Industry Bureau, and the management of radio, TV, culture, press and publication, and copy rights in the Culture Bureau," said Xu Zongheng, mayor of Shenzhen.

"These functions formerly scattered in different departments and the reshuffle has resulted in evident improvement of work efficiency," said Xu.

Competitive election of Party officials of grass-roots neighborhood committees in urban areas and village committees in the countryside will be put into practice soon, he added.

Shenzhen is commonly seen as the "experimental field" of China's reform and opening up and also a "window" for China's opening to the outside world.

Thirty years of reform and opening up have brought about historical changes in China's development -- the planned economic system has been smashed gradually and a market economic system has basically shaped up, creating a rocketing economy that is now the fourth largest in the world, said Chi Fulin, executive president of China Institute for Reform and Development.

Behind the success, however, "resources and the environment, the widening income gap, and social fairness and justice are the major three issues to be dealt with properly in the current reform and opening-up drive," said Chi.

Chinese leaders are clear minded and steadfast that the reform and opening-up drive should speed up.

Last week, President Hu Jintao gave an unusual stress on the significance of reform and opening up. He said, "Today, if we want to resolve the deep-seated problems that constrain China's social and economic development, if we want to realize scientific development, we must unswervingly continue to reform and open up."

Premier Wen Jiabao also vowed to adhere to the reform and opening-up policy.

"We need to unswervingly promote reform in economic and political institutions... Opening up is also a kind of reform, and a nation cannot become strong if it is not open and inclusive," the premier told lawmakers while reporting the work of the government to the annual parliament session last week.

Observers say the planned institutional restructuring of the State Council, or China's cabinet, is part of the reform in the political system.

It is a "major link" in China's continued effort to deepen reform of the political system, said Li Junru, vice-president of the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

According to the institutional restructuring plan, the government will create or enlarge five ministries, and realign the functions of others, aimed at building an efficient and service-oriented government while curbing waste, abuses of power and corruption.

"The conduct of the government is closely related to the achievements of the reform and opening-up drive," said Chi Fulin.

Since the SARS crisis in 2003, the people has seen more and more clearly that the transformation of government is one of the keys to changes in the mode of economic development, said the scholar.

"Without substantial changes in government functions, the change in the mode of economic development would be very difficult or even unreachable," he added.

It is the expectations of the people that the institutional restructuring could lay a solid foundation for further transformation of government functions and the reform of the country's political system.


Editor:Xiong Qu