Shenzhen drawing up new, less ambitious, plans for reform

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 12:00am

Shenzhen authorities are drawing up new plans for government reform after going cold on an earlier attempt to introduce a western-style administration which analysts said went too far for the Communist Party.

Reports of the new plan have emerged just weeks after the original, ambitious reorganisation proposal was effectively scrapped.

'The focus now is on results that can be seen. We cannot be too idealistic,' said a source.

A pet project of former mayor Yu Youjun, who is now vice-governor of Hunan province, the original reform sought to divide the government into three branches - policymaking, implementation and supervision. The three-tiered administration would have been more open and accountable, it was thought, but interest in the plan faded once Mr Yu left.

A source yesterday said the plan now was to strengthen the government's abilities along those same three lines, but with no intention to separate them.

'They have not given up [the idea of] reforms. They want to implement a new plan late this year or early next year,' the source said.

'The thrust of reform will not change, but it has to go through a process. We can't achieve reform in one step because there are political and social reforms to take into consideration,' he said.

The longer-term goal remained a separation of powers, the source added.

Officials hope the reforms will weed out corruption and abuse of power.

In an attempt to raise the overall quality of administration, the government will try to improve how policies get drafted and implemented, he said. It will also hold more open forums and consult citizens more often with the aim of increasing public participation.

The original draft, though considered ambitious, kept the divisions of power within the government. Critics of the plan said it was doomed to fail because one government branch made policies and was then supposed to supervise itself.

Its backers had hoped that introducing some division of powers to the executive arm would give the city a taste of western-style government.

That the plan was scrapped showed the degree of reform was too much for the Communist Party to stomach, sources said.

The mainland's accession to the World Trade Organisation is seen as giving a powerful impetus to the drive to overhaul the government so it can respond faster to market demands.

Shenzhen is considered to be at the forefront of such reforms.