Beijing gave approval yesterday for Guangdong to explore streamlining bureaucratic red tape, which may set an example for the rest of the country. It may also afford provincial party boss Wang Yang more leverage in political jockeying ahead of this autumn's party congress, analysts said.
The go-ahead, from the State Council, designates Guangdong as a pilot region for the reforms, officially called the administrative examination and approval system, between now and 2015.
The State Council also announced a decision to cut or streamline 314 types of government approvals, mostly related to non-financial sectors, small business and private investments, following a meeting yesterday chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao . The latest clean-up is part of the central government's attempt to address over-regulation, which some economists have criticised.
In March, during the annual session of the National People's Congress, Guangdong officials, led by Wang, called for reform aimed at balancing decision-making, executive authority and monitoring powers within the government.
Wang said he wanted more support from the State Council to break through the existing legal obstacles. "I want to see if we can get backing from relevant departments by granting power to [Guangdong] to pioneer reform ... If there is a legal obstacle, let's all petition against it," he said.
Analysts said the approval for Guangdong showed that the central government was endorsing bold attempts by the province to transform government operations. "This is high-profile recognition by the central government for experiments carried out in Guangdong," said Peng Peng , a researcher with the Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences.
Hu Xingdou , a Beijing-based political commentator and professor, said the central government's support for Wang would increase the likelihood of him being given a seat on the Politburo's all-powerful Standing Committee in the top leadership reshuffle just weeks away.
"Wang is the most reform-minded senior official in the Communist Party, and the nod for Guangdong ahead of the party's national congress shows that he is likely to have won support from top leaders," Hu said.