The Communist Party is further tightening its grip over state-owned enterprises and has issued an order to reaffirm the leadership role of party committees in them. The order was issued by the Communist Party Central Committee last January and released by Xinhua (the New China News Agency) yesterday. It put the final nail in the coffin of a proposal once suggested by disgraced Communist Party boss Zhao Ziyang to separate the management of enterprises from party control. Although the proposal was not meant to create an independent state sector, it was intended to grant greater autonomy to enterprise managers and stop interference from party secretaries. But the latest order stipulates that party leadership in state enterprises 'must be greatly strengthened' and local Communist Party committees must take part in 'major decisions' of the companies. 'Factory directors [managers] and the boards of directors must seek and respect advice from the party committees and report to the committees all their major decisions,' the order said. Furthermore, personnel changes - including those of middle-ranking cadres - of state enterprises would need to go before the party committees for collective discussions and company managers were to be responsible for executing the committees' decisions. It explained that party leadership in state enterprises was crucial because the committees could help ensure implementation of government and party policies and help managers to avoid making mistakes.