China has just introduced a rule requiring ministries to issue policies within seven days of State Council approval following Premier Li Keqiang’s criticism of officials delaying government measures. Mainland media said the State Council’s General Office – the government’s secretariat – had sought comments on the new regulation from 87 government departments in a single day. Such an undertaking helps to shed light on the extremely complex level of bureaucracy that goes on behind the high walls of the Zhongnanhai government compound. Analysts said that the new measures would solve only the “first kilometre” of the huge problem of implementing central government policies. The new directive, issued by the cabinet on Wednesday, means policy documents approved at executive meetings must be issued within seven days. Those that need significant modifications should be issued within 10 days. After the executive meeting’s decision, the ministry – which takes the lead in drafting the document – must make the necessary amendments and ensure it has been countersigned by all relevant departments and then delivered to the State Council within three days. During the next two days, the General Office must examine and agree to the amendments and then give its final approval. Two final days are reserved for the proofreading and issuing of the regulation. China Youth Daily , quoting an anonymous principal official at the government’s secretariat, reported that getting the views on the new rule of so many people, including all the deputy secretaries of the State Council and the heads of all relevant departments and bureaus, had not been easy. “Everyone has their own opinion,” the official was quoted as saying. “How to get them all to reach an agreement is a challenge in itself.” In the past, the countersigning of documents by the different departments has often taken a long time. If one department made a suggestion for an amendment, that decision would then have to go back through a complicated vetting process, starting with the section chief, then director-generals and then ministers, the official told the newspaper. This meant implementation of government decisions could often be delayed by up to three months before it was publicly issued. China Business News , citing a scholar, reported that the new regulation could help to solve only the “first kilometre” of the problem of “policies originating in Zhongnanhai not leaving Zhongnanhai” – a popular saying describing notorious delays over the implementation of central government policy. There was still a lot to do before the policies could be implemented locally, it said. A ministry official told the newspaper that once policies were issued, they immediately faced challenges from other ministries and commissions all attempting to look after their own interests. Next there came a period of lobbying by various interested parties. When policies finally reached the local level, they faced further resistance from local governments, which were quick to protect their own interests. The ministry official told the newspaper that because of President Xi Jinping’s high-profile anti-corruption campaign, and with China’s economy at crossroads, some officials had chosen to adopt a slack system of governing and were intent on just keeping their heads down. The new directive also requires all documents to be posted on government websites on the day of issue – ending the previous 20-day delay between government internal circulation and public announcements.