Beijing moves to reform civil service

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 October, 2002, 12:00am

Beijing has reshuffled key ministries in charge of foreign trade, communications and railways as part of preparations for a landmark Communist Party congress.

The changes also signal the start of a comprehensive reform of the civil service, modelled on the British system, sources say.

Lu Fuyuan will replace Shi Guangsheng as party secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation (Moftec), putting him in line to replace Mr Shi as Moftec minister in March when the National People's Congress convenes.

Mr Lu has been Moftec's deputy party secretary and deputy minister since March.

Zhang Chunxian has become party secretary of the Ministry of Communications, replacing Huang Zhendong who will remain minister until March. Mr Zhang is the ministry's deputy party secretary and deputy minister.

Liu Zhijun, deputy minister of railways, has replaced Fu Zhihuan as the party boss of the Ministry of Railways. Mr Fu will remain minister until March.

The central government ministers usually double as party secretaries of the ministries of which they are in charge.

Mr Lu, Mr Zhang and Mr Liu are expected to become members of the powerful central committee at the 16th party congress, due to begin on November 8. At the congress, the party will elect a new central leadership, followed by a major government shake-up at the NPC meeting in March.

Party sources said the latest reshuffles were aimed at increasing accountability and loyalty to the central leadership.

'Until recently, most provincial governors or ministers were appointed from within - normally those people who tended to work for this province or that ministry for a long period of time,' one source said.

'However, those people tended to be influenced by or cater to special interests groups in the sectors or provinces where they have worked for a long time, which could easily lead to corruption and other malpractices.'

The source said the party and government would make top-level civil service appointments modelled on the British system. 'In the future, the top-level officials at provinces or ministries don't have to have rich experiences or expertise in the areas for which they are responsible, while their deputies would be technocrats,' he said.

A case in point is the appointment as Moftec's party secretary of Mr Lu, who has little experiences in managing foreign trade and investment. He worked for First Auto Works, one of China's largest car makers, for 18 years. From 1990 to 1998, he worked at the Ministry of Machinery Industry, responsible for the car industry. From 1998 to March this year, he was the deputy minister of education.