Economic tsar hits out at critics over 'ignored reforms'
By DANIEL KWAN
REFORMS championed by Vice-Premier Zhu Rongji have been marginalised, misunderstood and ignored, the economic tsar has complained.
A speech late last month at a national economic reform conference revealed Mr Zhu not only faced stiff opposition from the regions, but encountered enormous difficulties in pushing his policies through the central Government.
Excerpts from the speech were published in the latest issue of the pro-Beijing Mirror Magazine.
It said Mr Zhu blasted unruly regional leaders for sidelining central Government edicts and hit at State Statistical Bureau Chief Economist Qiu Xiaohua for questioning his tight monetary policy.
Other targets of criticism included the party secretary of east China's model city Zhangjiagang, Qin Zhenhua; the State Administration of State Property; and cadres in Shandong, for apparently filing inflated economic reports.
He charged that Mr Qin was trying to turn his port city into 'a Singapore by day and a Hong Kong by night', saying such idea ran contrary to China's urbanisation plan and the decision to preserve farmland.
The Vice-Premier also expressed little faith in the reports of enterprise performance filed by the Shandong cadres. He appointed Vice-Minister of Economic Reform, Hong Hu, to lead a special team to the province to 'find out the truth'.
But the speech also showed that the Vice-Premier faced pressure from conference participants to widen the scope of fund-raising and draw a clear demarcation between central and local tax revenue.
Instead of bowing to the pressure, Mr Zhu criticised enterprise managers who complained about his policies but did little themselves to increase sales and improve efficiency.
He lashed out at managers of H-share companies formerly listed in Hong Kong, saying: 'These bosses acted as if they faced no pressure at all and went to Hong Kong, where they complained about the state. The state then lost credibility and we can't have companies listed in Hong Kong anymore.
'This is no solution to our credit problem.
'Qiu Xiaohua said all problems were because of the credit crunch. But I want to ask him - can we afford to relax credit?' And the manager of Shanghai No 3 Radio Factory was 'foolish' to have borrowed more than 300 million yuan (HK$279 million) from banks and left his company in financial ruin, the Vice-Premier said.
Mr Zhu also had some strong words for the state property administration for suggesting setting up share-holding companies to manage state properties, saying the administration 'had little idea of what it was up to'.
He revealed the central Government had rejected the idea of setting up share-holding companies to supervise the Ministry of Power Industry and Ministry of Metallurgical Industry.
But the Vice-Premier had a lot of praise for Shanghai, commending the city for its housing reform programme, enterprise-merger experiments and the 'fine results' of the Baoshan Iron and Steel Plant.