China to Launch Revamp with Merged Ministries

Tomorrow Wen Jiabao will deliver the annual government work report at the opening of the National People’s Congress meeting. A Financial Times article highlights what is slated to be one of the major issues at this year’s meetings: the reorganization of ministries into “super-ministries”:

The government has yet to announce the make-up of the new ministries but officials and scholars in Beijing said the focus would be on streamlining those dealing with transport, industry, energy, telecommunications and the environment.

“The idea of ‘big ministries’ stems from Chinese leaders’ wish to ensure directives passed by party and state authorities in the capital will be enforced by local-level administrations, which are skilled at diluting Beijing’s instructions,” said Jörg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in Beijing.

Mao Shoulong, a public policy expert at Beijing’s Renmin University, said the shake-up was part of an effort to bring Chinese governance into line with international norms. The changes were aimed at separating executive decision-making from regulatory and enforcement activities, functions often still handled within the same agency. “It means that ministries will not be able to run their own enterprises,” Mr Mao said. “The power will no longer be centralised in one person.”

Xinhua has released “highlights” of Wen’s report to the press.

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