The chief of China’s top advisory body has moved to allay fears and quell suggestions that authorities are not doing enough to support the nation’s private companies, in Beijing’s latest attempt to reassure the jittery sector that is struggling amid pandemic lockdowns and regulatory crackdowns. The country will stick to its reform and opening-up policies, while the promise of “unswervingly” encouraging, supporting and guiding the development of the non-public sector will not change, and neither will the basic economic system that strives for the “common development of various forms of ownership”, according to Wang Yang, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). “This is decided by the party’s basic theory, basic line and basic strategy, having the guarantee of the constitution and laws,” Wang, who is No 4 in the party hierarchy, was quoted by People’s Daily as saying. “Any words and deeds that negate or doubt the basic economic system are not in line with the party’s general principles. Do not believe nor circulate them,” he reportedly told representatives of business communities at a meeting held during the ongoing “two sessions” policy-setting gatherings in Beijing. As it happened: ‘Two sessions’ – China ups defence spending, sets GDP growth target Wang’s comments serve to reinforce the greater emphasis that Beijing has placed on job security in the government’s 2022 work report. China’s private sector is responsible for about 80 per cent of the nation’s urban jobs. His message also came as China’s decision makers have been stepping up their efforts to assuage the private sector’s growing anxieties and scepticism in recent years, particularly as authorities have pushed to make state-owned enterprises (SOEs) “ stronger and better ”. A note by a self-proclaimed financial expert in 2018 also set off alarms by saying the private sector had “completed its historic mission” and should “fade away”. The discussion and discord further intensified last year as Beijing imposed regulatory crackdowns on a wide range of sectors, from tech to the off-campus tutoring industry , which include mostly private companies. The Chinese leadership has warned about “ threefold pressure ” facing the country, including “weaker expectations”, which multiple experts have said is a reflection of the waning confidence among entrepreneurs in the world’s second-largest economy. Ripples from the regulatory shock have continued to spread, warned Jia Kang, the former head of the finance ministry’s research institute. “How [does China] further reassure private firms? I don’t think this problem has been well resolved, yet,” he wrote last month in an article published on his public WeChat channel. He said that many in the private sector were still feeling discriminated against, despite the central government having repeatedly described private businesses and entrepreneurs as “our own people”. “[We should] give the market, especially private enterprises, a sense of direction, security and hope in the process of development,” he said. China’s smallest businesses – which are predominantly private – were failing at a historic pace as 4.37 million permanently shut their doors in the first 11 months of 2021, according to data exclusively obtained by the Post . ‘China’s tectonic U-turn’: Beijing moves away from rapid economic growth Wang acknowledged that both the coronavirus pandemic and a transformation of the country’s economic development model have led to mounting pressure on private companies. “However, the difficulties are more industry-based rather than all-sided, and more short-term than long-term. The overall strength, innovative vitality and risk-averse ability of the private economy are all increasing,” he said. “The more complicated and serious the situation is, the more we should have confidence in the party’s major policies,” Wang added, noting that the private sector is an important foundation of the Chinese economy. He called all regional authorities to take proactive steps and to enhance their ability to put support policies for the private economy into practice, while being responsive to feedback and suggestions of private enterprises. “We will provide equitable and law-based protection to the property rights and independent management rights of enterprises, and to the lawful rights and interests of entrepreneurs,” said the government’s annual work report issued on Saturday.