New leaders finalise candidates for top posts, approve restructuring plan

After three-day closed-door meeting, lawmakers are set to rubber-stamp nominations next week

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 March, 2013, 5:13am

The Communist Party's new leaders finalised the nomination of candidates for top government posts and approved a cabinet- restructuring plan to streamline the bloated bureaucracy.

The list, created at a three-day, closed-door meeting of the party's Central Committee that ended yesterday, is set to be rubber-stamped by lawmakers at next week's annual session of the National People's Congress, the ceremonial legislature.

The move will complete a power transition that began in November when Xi Jinping was installed as the party's general secretary.

The restructure of the State Council, or cabinet, is to create a further "division of power between the government and enterprises, the government and investors, the government and social institutions, and the government and social groups", said a statement issued via state-run Xinhua last night.

"It aims to build a service-oriented government … that is clean and efficient, and which satisfies the people," it said.

It aims to build a service-oriented government … that is clean and efficient, and which satisfies the people

The Central Committee also pledges to deal with problems. "We cannot pretend we don't see the prominent conflicts and problems in the party, evade them or whitewash them. We should make an effort to solve them," it said.

The State Council shake-up comes as part of a major effort by the new leadership to advance market-oriented reform to cut bureaucracy and curb its unabated intervention in marketplaces.

Though details of the streamlining effort have yet to be announced, the goal of the consolidation is to create "super ministries" that pull together a jumble of central agencies with overlapping duties in broad fields such as transport, media, energy, finance and health.

Under scenarios discussed in official media, the Ministry of Railways could be united with agencies that oversee road and air travel. The ministry is a Soviet-style behemoth with 2.1 million employees, its own courts and police, and 1.7 billion passengers last year. Making it part of a transport "super ministry" is considered a likely priority.

The Ministry of Culture might absorb regulators of film, publishing and television, where boundaries have been blurred by the rise of internet- and mobile phone-based media. And the controversial family-planning agency, which enforces China's birth limits, might be merged into the Ministry of Health.

Similar shake-ups occurred in 2003 and 2008.

Government-restructuring efforts were launched after a March 2008 parliamentary session that resulted in the establishment of "super ministries", including human resources and social security and transport, as well as reducing the number of major ministries to 27.

Xi and other top party leaders have also met with non-Communist Party leaders and social elites to consult them on both the streamlining plans and leadership line-up.

The party's decision-making body has also proposed candidates to fill leadership roles for the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the party's top political advisory body, and the cabinet. The list will also be endorsed at the first annual session of the NPC on Tuesday, two days after the largely paralleling CPPCC, which only plays an advisory role.

Xi will succeed Hu Jintao as president, while Li Keqiang will replace Wen Jiabao as premier, in next week's legislative session.