Political Implications of the Proposed “Super-Ministries”
Caijing’s managing editor, Hu Shuli, says, “judging from the report from the second plenum of the 17th CPC Central Committee, we can see how far-reaching the impact of this round of reform will be, and that its core values relate to the building of democratic politics, something long hoped for by the general public.”
March this year brings more than spring to Beijing. Six months on from the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the first plenary session of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC) is due to open here shortly, as is the first plenum of the 11th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) – events often referred to as “Two Meetings.” Once again, people’s attention will be on political reforms, and there will be much expectation about the outcome of a number of unresolved issues. There will not be too many surprises on personnel reorganization, as several indications so far already suggested how that question might be resolved at the “Two Meetings.” More interesting will be the unveiling and discussion of what is popularly known as the “super ministry plan” – the “Program for Reform of Institutions under the State Council” (“the Program”). The exact details of the plan, and the way in which it is implemented, are sure to influence the direction of China’s reform, economic development and social transformation in the near and medium term.
The detailed contents of the Program and of the “Opinions Concerning Deepening Reform of Administrative and Management Systems” are still unknown. However, core values in the report from the second plenum of the 17th CPC Central Committee, relate to building democratic politics, something long hoped for by the general public. Not only does the report reaffirm the goal of “developing socialist democratic politics,” it for the first time also contains the phrase “holding higher the banner of people’s democracy.” The report acknowledges the pressing and essential need for political system reform, and stresses “deepening reform of the political system” and “institutionalization, standardization and proceduralization of socialist democratic politics.” In addition to recognizing administrative systems reform as part of reform of the political system, emphasis was also given to its “importance and urgency.” In light of the above, we are justified in holding higher expectations for this soon-to-be-implemented round of State Council institutional reforms and hoping that something more profound will be achieved by them.