Chongqing's new party boss wants the municipality to make the most of its special status, writes Josephine Ma
Chongqing has yet to make the most of its special status as a municipality and there are no limits to the experiments that can be attempted as long as they boost economic growth, says new party secretary Wang Yang.
Mr Wang said he was considering reforms that would allow the municipality - which has more autonomy than cities as it is directly administered by the central government - to fully use its privileges.
He was a vice-secretary-general of the State Council until being appointed Chongqing party boss three months ago.
Mr Wang said one of his missions was to make Chongqing more like a municipality and make it fully live up to its title. The former top state planner said there were no restrictions on what could be attempted.
'As for how to make the most of the privileges given to Chongqing, my colleagues and I have been carefully studying this question. I think the room is almost unlimited. However, our wisdom is limited and how to use the wisdom of my team to tap the unlimited potential is the difficulty I am facing,' he said.
Mr Wang, 61, was a vice-minister of the State Development and Planning Commission from 1999 to 2003 and was in charge of macroeconomic development at the State Council.
Already an alternate member of the central party committee, he is a frontrunner to be appointed a vice-premier or to an even higher position in the keynote party congress next year. However, he has remained low key during his three months in Chongqing.
He said it was up to his successors to complete the task of turning Chongqing into a 'genuine municipality'. 'It will take much effort and I don't think it can be completed within my term ... At least we should clarify the targets and the path to take, and maybe we can make it a real municipality in the west in 10 to 20 years.'
Mr Wang said improving the livelihood of people displaced by the Three Gorges Dam topped his agenda. 'This state action has resulted in the relocation of many people and we have the responsibility to make sure their living standards can catch up with social progress,' he said.
'More than 15 million people are involved and they take up half of the population of this municipality.'
To demonstrate his devotion to the cause, Mr Wang travelled to Yunyang county - hours away from Chongqing city centre - and spent four days visiting people displaced by the dam.
But describing himself as an official with 'no personal character', Mr Wang said he was only doing his job when he visited people in the resettlement area.
'I am not an official with my own character. I am just an official nurtured in this system, and I am the kind of official who listens to leaders and works according to the instructions of the leaders.
'As a local leader, [my job] is decided by the nature of the Communist Party ... What we are doing is only part of our job. However, some people in our position, including those in the ruling party, have failed to do what they should do and it then seems that people who [care about the public] are worth praising. I think it is our responsibility and duty.'
He also blamed government policies for spurring competition between the governments of Chongqing and Chengdu, capital of neighbouring Sichuan province. Chongqing was split from Sichuan nine years ago and Mr Wang said the two had been fighting for more central government resources.
'The system has forced cadres to fight in order to get more resources from above. This has affected the public and the cadres.'
Mr Wang refused to compare municipality status to 'one country, two systems', saying: 'I am a pragmatic person and I don't put effort into things that are worthless. Whenever I do something, I will do it with full effort and I don't think about things which are irrelevant.'
Responding to comments that such remarks showed he was an official with character, Mr Wang said: 'If you think I have character, it shows that this system allows officials with character.'