How far has China come on its path of reform?

By Zheng Yongnian
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 25, 2013
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Large-scale administrative structural reforms

A new wave of structural reform started after CPC's 16th national congress in 2002 – and in particular when Premier Wen Jiabao took up office in March of the following year.

This round of government's institutional reform aimed at further merging existing ministries while at the same time enhancing the government's regulatory and service roles. All was conducted in line with new political notions such as "harmonious society" and "scientific outlook on development."

Ministry mergers in developed countries are primarily meant to enhance the government's regulatory role, or, ultimately, achieving the rule of law.

There have been talks that the big-ministry system will help to rationalize the government's administrative structures by putting together departments of similar functions to reduce bureaucracy and redundancy, and then to fundamentally improve its administrative efficiency.

This conception is incomplete. Merging ministries is indeed part of the reform, but is not a major one. Instead, structural reform principally aims to standardize governmental roles, while perfecting government's administrative structure. Regarding the later part, efforts are still far from adequate.

Unluckily, years of reform failed to improve China's administrative efficiency, much owing to that the government is still confused about its roles.

Clinging to business powers isn't helpful to form a regulatory government. As long as the government directly puts itself in economic activities, the government regulation of business equals to "a man monitoring himself."

The government's administrative practices and experiences over the past decade are evident that further structural reform is necessary.

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