Home » Key Points, Highlights and Difficulties of China’s Institutional Reform in 2023- FT中文网

Key Points, Highlights and Difficulties of China’s Institutional Reform in 2023- FT中文网

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Key Points, Highlights and Difficulties of China’s Institutional Reform in 2023- FT中文网

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On February 28, the Second Plenary Session of the 20th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China deliberated and passed the “Party and State Institutional Reform Plan”, which involved measures for the reform of state institutions. Issued by the State Council. On March 16, Xinhua News Agency was authorized to publish the full text.

On March 21, 2018, Xinhua News Agency was also authorized to publish the full text of the “Deepening Party and State Institutional Reform Plan”. The two versions have similarities and differences, but the biggest similarity is “to strengthen the centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee as the guide, and to promote the modernization of the national governance system and governance capabilities as the guide.” The difference is compared in terms of content and length. The 2018 edition has 60 articles, and the 2023 edition has 19 articles. Obviously, the 2018 edition is richer. From the comparison of the approval process, the 2023 version was approved at the Second Plenum of the Central Committee together with the list of national leaders. The 2018 version was approved at the Third Plenum of the Central Committee less than a month after the Second Plenary Session was held. It has been an unwritten practice since the reform and opening up that the themes of the Third Plenary Sessions of the previous CPC Central Committee usually focused on reform, which shows the strength of the reform in the 2018 edition. From the comparison of the issuing agencies, the 2018 edition was issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China alone, and the 2023 edition was jointly issued by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, which is more rigorous and more legitimate. Although “the Party leads everything,” when it comes to the responsibilities and affairs of the State Council, the decision-making process should be made by the State Council.

Institutional reform priorities in 2023

1. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China continues to expand and materialize its power.Institutional reform in 2018, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and its departments have expanded their powers, and the State Council and its departments have correspondingly reduced or merged their powers. For example: the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the newly established National Supervisory Commission work together, abolish the Ministry of Supervision and the National Bureau of Corruption Prevention; The National Copyright Administration, the National Film Administration, and the State Council Information Office; In 2023, the institutional reform will continue the previous round, and establish the Central Social Work Department, the Central Financial Commission, the Central Financial Work Committee, the Central Science and Technology Commission, and the Central Hong Kong and Macau Work Office, focusing on strengthening the centralization of the CPC Central Committee’s work on society, finance, technology, Hong Kong and Macau Unified leadership. For example, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council no longer retains dual identities, but is equivalent to the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Central Committee.

2. New functional departments of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.The newly established Central Social Work Department is mainly responsible for people’s letters and visits, grassroots governance, grassroots government construction, volunteer services, industry associations, chambers of commerce, mixed ownership enterprises, non-public enterprises, new economic organizations, new social organizations, and party building of new employment groups. Unified leadership of the State Letters and Calls Bureau, assigned to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the Central and State Organ Work Committee, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, and the Central Civilization Office. On February 18, 1939, the Ministry of Social Affairs of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (the predecessor of the Ministry of National Security) was established in Zaoyuan, Yan’an, in charge of intelligence and security work. Revoked in 1983. In other words, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China added new functional departments after 50 years, which shows its weight.

3. Strengthen the management of the financial system by the central government.In recent years, chaos in the financial system has occurred frequently, such as the suspension of listing on the Science and Technology Innovation Board of Ant Group, Didi Chuxing’s early listing in the United States, the destruction of the P2P platform, the bankruptcy of Baoshang Bank, and the disappearance of 40 billion deposits in Henan Village Bank. , the local debt crisis, and the bursting of the high-leverage turnover bubble in real estate, etc., the financial systemic risk has risen sharply. Establish the Central Financial Committee to strengthen the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China‘s centralized and unified leadership of financial work, study and review major policies and major issues in the financial field, set up offices under it, and list them in the party’s central organization sequence. The establishment of the Central Financial Work Committee to unify the leadership of the party’s work in the financial system, and to work together with the Central Financial Office. Joint investigation and nomination by the Central Financial Working Committee. The People’s Bank of China focused on the main business of monetary policy, and abolished regional branches and branch business management departments, business management departments directly under the head office, central sub-branches in provincial capital cities, and county (city) sub-branches. All central financial management departments and their branches and dispatched agencies use administrative establishments, and their staff follow the national civil servant salary standards, which means that the income of incumbents will drop sharply. Both the State Administration of Financial Supervision and the China Securities Regulatory Commission are determined to be institutions directly under the State Council, not public institutions directly under the State Council, thus possessing independent administrative qualifications, and the power and responsibility of financial supervision have been simultaneously enhanced.

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Fourth, highlight the high level of self-reliance and self-improvement in science and technology.Finance is the blood of a national economy, and technology is the key to competition among major powers. The Chinese government responded positively to the competition and confrontation of the United States, especially the “acupuncture” of science and technology, and established the Central Science and Technology Committee to strengthen the centralized and unified leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on science and technology work, to study and review major national science and technology development strategies, major plans, and major policies. It is not satisfied with chips, etc. The existing core technology is “stuck”, trying to completely get rid of the passive situation and occupy the commanding heights in the future. The Ministry of Science and Technology has significantly slimmed down, strengthened the responsibilities of strategic planning, system reform, resource coordination, comprehensive coordination, and basic research at the macro level, and improved the new national system and the top-level design of scientific and technological innovation; The level of specific project review, management, and funding allocation is no longer involved, and should be released as soon as possible to avoid entanglement of interests and putting the cart before the horse.

Fifth, the NPC and CPPCC are only fine-tuned.The National People’s Congress Standing Committee Delegates Work Committee shall be established to be responsible for the allocation of deputies, qualification examination, and liaison services. Optimize the sectoral setting of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, add an “environmental and resource sector”, and integrate the two sectors of the Communist Youth League and the Youth Federation. Since the reform expressly states that “coordinating the Party Central Committee, the National People’s Congress, the State Council, and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference,” the four sets of teams must not lack the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, so they must take action. The number of committees and sectors can be increased or decreased, in fact, it can be five or ten years sooner or later, and the strength and effect are small. Borrowing the analogy of Go terminology, the core strategy of the institutional reform in 2018 is equivalent to grabbing the “big market” and making a drastic strategic layout; the core strategy of the institutional reform in 2023 is equivalent to occupying the “urgent place”, facing difficulties and breaking through the middle market. Financial technology is related to the destiny of the country, and it is no small matter.

2023 Institutional Reform Highlights

1. Adhere to the separation of supervision and development responsibilities.It is definitely unfair for the same group of people and the same department to be both athletes and referees, and it is difficult to balance the two roles. Therefore, it is necessary to promote the separation of management and management and distinguish the boundaries between the government and the market. On the basis of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, the State Administration of Financial Supervision and Administration will be established to be responsible for the supervision of the financial industry other than the securities industry, strengthen institutional supervision, behavior supervision, functional supervision, penetrating supervision, continuous supervision, and reduce regulatory gaps, repeated supervision, In order to solve problems such as inconsistent standards, strengthen risk management and preventive measures, and promote the process of rule of law, standardization, marketization, integration, and internationalization. In the past, local financial institutions had to develop and serve the local economy, and supervise local financial violations. There were often contradictions between the functions of the two. Now it is clear that the local financial regulatory system is dominated by the local agencies of the central financial management department, and the financial regulatory agencies established by local governments are specialized Supervision responsibilities of the company, and no longer hang the financial work bureau, financial office and other brands. In the past, the Central Cyberspace Administration of China not only promoted the development of the digital economy, but also supervised network security and data security. The functions of the two often conflicted. In the future, it will focus on supervision, and the development and service of the digital economy will be in charge of the National Data Bureau managed by the National Development and Reform Commission. After the reorganization of the Ministry of Science and Technology, it no longer participates in the review and management of specific scientific research projects, which also reflects this concept.

2. Actively seek changes to adapt to the digital age.The digital revolution and digital economy are in the ascendant, such as ChatGPT and GPT-4, which are popular all over the Internet; the sharing and utilization of data resources continue to be controversial, for example, the US government continues to suppress TikTok on the grounds of national security threats. A new round of institutional reforms will establish the National Data Bureau, coordinate the integration, sharing, development and utilization of data resources, promote the planning and construction of digital China, digital economy, and digital society, and effectively solve the current problems of data fragmentation, decentralized management, inconsistent standards, and inefficient use. question. At the same time, improve the status of the State Intellectual Property Office, improve the intellectual property management system, accelerate the construction of an intellectual property power, comprehensively improve the level of intellectual property creation, application, protection, management and service, and promote the accelerated development of scientific and technological innovation.

3. Iterative perfection of dynamic correction.In the discourse system of Chinese politics, “Fan Shaobing” usually has a negative and derogatory meaning, and is generally regarded as a taboo, because it will inevitably negate the predecessor, or the leader, or the past achievements, and it is easy to generate new contradictions and disputes. But we must also affirm that the CCP’s executive power is top-notch, and its courage to self-improvement and self-innovation is commendable. The institutional reform in 2023 will cancel the five measures of the institutional reform in 2018. Obviously, after five years of practice and trial and error, the results are not good. , so iteratively and decisively corrected by “turning the sesame cake”. Including: the National Office on Aging and the China Association for the Aging were transferred from the National Health Commission to the Ministry of Civil Affairs; the Ministry of Science and Technology‘s industry technology planning, policy, and guidance functions were transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the National Health Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, etc.; the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs was transferred from the Ministry of Science and Technology to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security; An institution directly under the State Council.

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Fourth, the strength of elite troops is appropriate and flexible.China‘s grassroots departments are small and have complicated tasks. The popular description is “thousands of threads on the top and one needle on the bottom.” In some streets, one department corresponds to more than a dozen departments at the higher level, and meetings and inspections are overwhelming. Institutional reform in 2023 is clear, “The staffing of all departments of the central government and state agencies will be reduced by 5%.” It is not difficult to implement. At present, the administrative staffing of many departments is not full. There are also staff retiring to make room for new staff. There are also three very humane and down-to-earth regulations: the central government’s dispatched agencies and overseas agencies are not included in the scope of unified streamlining; the county and township levels are not subject to streamlining requirements; for a small number of departments after the streamlining, the problem of overstaffing is given 5 years Gradually digest during the transition period. The last point implies that the vacant staff can be reduced first, not layoffs immediately; if the staff is overstaffed, the staff vacated by retirees within 5 years will be used to make up for it. Interestingly, this sentence appeared in the “Explanation on the State Council’s Institutional Reform Plan” delivered to the National People’s Congress by then State Councilor and Secretary-General of the State Council Xiao Jie on March 7, but it was not stipulated in the official document of the “Party and State Institutional Reform Plan” .

Difficulties in future institutional reforms

1. Can the Central Rural Work Department be restored?Institutional reform in 2018, the Ministry of Agriculture was reorganized into the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and the Central Agricultural Office was co-organized; in February 2021, the National Poverty Alleviation Office was reorganized into the National Rural Revitalization Bureau. The plan cannot be introduced, and the organizational reform and merger in 2023 will not be possible. Objectively speaking, the National Rural Revitalization Administration cannot afford the heavy burden of rural construction and rural governance, nor can the reorganized Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. It still lacks authority, ability and talents. In the 1980s, a group of young talents under Du Runsheng stood alone and became the new force of China‘s reform. In December 2022, China suddenly made a 180-degree turn to liberalize epidemic control. The joint defense and joint control mechanism of the State Council hastily set up a special class for epidemic prevention and control in rural areas. The Central Agricultural Office, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and the National Rural Revitalization Bureau took the lead and did some work. , but there is not enough authority and resources, the actual effect is very limited, and the strength of the alternative is well known. In November 1952, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China established the Rural Work Department, which was severely criticized by Mao Zedong because Minister Deng Zihui supported household contracting. In November 1962, the Central Rural Work Department was dismissed. In this century, rural work departments were established in some provinces, and the construction of new countryside has been vigorously achieved, but it is a pity that it has not been upgraded and promoted. There are still 500 million farmers in China. Agriculture is still weak, farmers are still weak, and rural areas are still weakened. The Central Rural Work Department should be restored early, and the State Council will be in charge of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has been reverted to the Ministry of Agriculture, focusing on the primary industry, and being able to provide food for 1.4 billion people is already a great and difficult task; a large agricultural province can establish a rural work department with a full-time minister appointed by the Standing Committee of the Provincial Party Committee, and the proportion of agriculture is not high In some regions, a rural work office headed by the deputy secretary-general of the party committee can be established.

2. Is it possible to significantly reduce the number of State Council agencies?Compared with the institutional reforms in 2018 and 2023, the number of departments under the State Council will remain at 26, and the number of directly affiliated institutions will increase from 10 to 14, which is still too many and can be reduced to 20 and 10 respectively. The system of major ministries is still the direction, with less support for people and less fussing, and a new governance modernization system of big civil affairs, big ecology, big culture, and big education will be further formed. The so-called “big civil affairs” refers to the merger of the Ministry of Civil Affairs with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in the first step and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in the second step; the so-called “big ecology” refers to the merger of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment with the Ministry of Natural Resources in the first step and the Ministry of Water Resources in the second step The so-called “big culture” refers to the merger of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism with the State Administration of Radio and Television and the State Sports General Administration; the so-called “big education” refers to the merger of the Ministry of Education with the Ministry of Science and Technology. After all, education is the foundation of science and technology. Without good basic education, there will be no Good basic research requires surgery on the Ministry of Education and the Central Propaganda Department, so that it can hope to catch up with the original ability of the United States through 50 years of hard work; the National Ethnic Affairs Commission is merged into the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee; ; The National Medical Insurance Bureau was placed under the management of the National Health Commission; the Counselor Office of the State Council was abolished, and its functions were merged with the National People’s Congress, the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, and the Development Research Center of the State Council.

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3. Can public institutions be significantly reduced?Nowadays, administrative units are short of manpower, and staff are often seconded from their affiliated institutions or lower-level administrative units. Observations from practice show that the central and provincial levels can save only a limited amount of money, and those who eat more money and spend more money are in public institutions. Many of them are redundant institutions, which can give full play to the decisive role of the market in resource allocation and expand The functions of social organizations such as industry associations are solved through socialized services. Public institutions can be largely abolished across the country, so the finances can reduce huge expenditures such as labor and operation, recycle office space, and avoid a lot of waste and corruption. In order to reduce shocks and maintain a smooth transition, the old methods for the elderly and the new methods for newcomers are implemented in the treatment of incumbents in public institutions.

4. Is it possible to significantly reduce deputies at all levels?Foreign governments and the government of the Republic of China usually have one official and one deputy, and they can do their jobs well. The Chinese tradition is “big government, small society”. The government has great power, wide range of responsibilities, and many officials. There are 14 vice-chairmen of the Standing Committee of the 14th National People’s Congress, 23 vice-chairmen of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, at least 6 and as many as 9 vice-chairmen of the 10 committees of the National People’s Congress, and at least 9 vice-chairmen of the 10 special committees of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference , as many as 16, full of emotion, too many. Provincial, prefectural, county, and township government leaders should have as few as 7 or as many as 10 deputy leaders, and at least halve it to only 4. The number of deputy directors in government agencies should not exceed 3. All “assistants” (such as assistant ministers) , assistant to the governor) and other posts are all abolished. In order to mobilize enthusiasm, cadres can go up and down, leadership positions above the bureau level (including) will retreat if they do not advance, and they will be transferred to non-leadership positions after 10 years without promotion. Reduce the risk of nepotism, hilltops, and corruption. China has never been short of talents, what is lacking is the mechanism and atmosphere that allow talents to work comfortably.

5. Can prefecture-level and sub-provincial management levels be abolished?There are too many public officials, and the financial burden is heavy. The Chinese government has five and a half levels of management: the central government, provinces (sub-provinces), prefectures, counties, and townships. Among them, 15 sub-provincial cities (5 cities with separate plans and 10 provincial capital cities) belong to the semi-level, which is unique in the world. 20 years ago, experts studied and conceived that about 50 provinces could be established nationwide, and prefecture and sub-provincial levels should be abolished accordingly. With the establishment of the socialist market economy, the rapid development of modern communications and transportation, and the modernization of governance deeply rooted in the hearts of the people, the conditions for implementing flattening, better troops and simpler administration have basically matured. It can become a topic of the Third Plenary Session of the 21st Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. About 20 provinces will be added nationwide, and each province will directly manage about 50-60 counties, and small counties will be merged. The existing provinces need to be divided according to local conditions, some take into account the geographical location, some take into account the history and tradition, some take into account the economically strong city as the new provincial capital, and some take into account the borders of multiple provinces (such as northern Guangdong, southern Jiangxi, western Fujian, southeastern Hunan Hakka settlements in the four provinces can be a new province), and some sub-provincial cities have been upgraded to municipalities directly under the central government (Shenzhen is the first choice, and local interests need to be taken into account. How many years and what percentage of Shenzhen’s taxes will be transferred to the central government to be transferred to Guangdong for further study).

(Note: The author is an independent reviewer, WeChat official account: SSWYPL. This article only represents the author’s personal opinion. The email address of the editor is bo.liu@ftchinese.com)

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