THE Chinese Government has ordered provincial and municipal officials to abide strictly by economic measures laid down by Beijing. But seasoned mainland economists cast doubts on the effectiveness of the central government's order, issued in the form of a circular, as regions were increasing their economic power and circumventing existing regulations to fight for their own interests. ''Regional economies have evolved into warlord economies,'' one economist said. ''The central government is losing its total grip on the economy.'' In the strongly worded circular issued by the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of Supervision under the State Council, officials called for greater discipline among cadres at all levels. The circular included a vow to oppose any action taken by regions and factions who merely took into account their own interests. Cadres must take the lead to ensure orders are carried out smoothly and the authority of the party and the State Council is upheld, it stressed. The joint circular was published in major mainland newspapers yesterday. Calling on localities and departments to set an example by implementing the policies of the central authorities, it warned that those who violated discipline would be punished. It criticised some regions and departments for failing to take serious and effective measures to implement central economic orders, adding some ''even go their own way''. The circular said the party's Central Committee and the State Council had produced a series of documents last year to ''counter problems that had already emerged, or were likely to emerge, so as to keep the smooth progress of reform and opening up''. The authorities emphasised the measures ''were necessary, timely and effective''. Based on the lessons of economic development in the past, they said economic remedial measures had been taken after considering the current economic situation with the interest of the masses in mind. The circular cited malpractices such as the failure of some localities and departments to allow enterprises more autonomy. Some still diverted funds allocated for such necessities as farm equipment into their own projects or set them aside, it said. Others were increasing tax pressure on peasants without Beijing's approval. Party cells above county levels should meet this year to examine the implementation of central economic policies, the circular said. The mainland economist said the emergence of ''warlord economies'' had undermined the interests of the central government on issues such as taxation. ''But at stake is not merely the financial revenue of the central government, but its authority,'' he said. ''We cannot say the issuing of central directives does not help. But at the end of the day, the central government needs to have a set of concrete measures to deal with some specific problems while, at the same time, tightening its control over regions. ''But the dilemma is that it is impossible to regain power already devolved to provincial governments. ''How to conduct macro-supervision and regulation has been easier said than done. I have yet to see any effective measures spelled out by the Government.'' The semi-official China News Service last night reported on a study written by two overseas Chinese scholars who warned that the shrinking financial strength of the state would lead to a weak central government. Dr Wang Shaoguang and Dr Wu Angan said the financial strength of the central government had been declining sharply in the past few years. Total state revenue compared with the total gross national product slid from 31.2 per cent in 1978 to 14.7 per cent last year, a figure among the lowest in the world, they said. They attributed the drop to tax loopholes. ''The decline of the strength of the state will become a hidden danger in the future of China,'' they said.