Is “Super-ministry Reform” Really Worth All The Fuss?

npc.jpgChina Media Project’s David Bandurski turns his considerable analytical powers to the question of China’s recently announced “super-ministry” political reform plan. Will it happen? What does it mean? According to Bandurski, everything hinges on what Chinese leaders mean when they use the phrase “separation of powers” (三权分立):

First things first, the general idea behind “ministry reform” is to merge various government agencies to eliminate overlapping responsibilities (政府职能交叉问题), resulting (hopefully) in greater efficiency and cost-saving.

The topic has actually been in the headlines for several months in China. A January 24 article run on and other websites talked about the pending merger of government agencies dealing with the telecoms industry, including the Ministry of Information Industry….Official party newspapers have loudly touted “ministry reforms” this week, and identical online feature spreads appeared at major Web portals aggregating news, history and favorable commentary on the topic.

…Behind the rhetoric, however, there are some very basic questions that leave “ministry reforms” landing, according to some readings, with an inconsequential THUD. Given the party’s clear efforts to champion these so-called reforms, it is interesting that we should be hearing these dissenting views at all.

Although he doesn’t dig nearly as deep into the language of the debate, Reuters’ Chris Buckley also appears highly skeptical of the super-ministry proposal.


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