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China's Communist Party

China’s Communist Party to limit local government inspections

Constant need to comply with central government assessments leading local officials to ‘choose form over substance’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 2:25pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 2:45pm

China’s ruling Communist Party said late on Tuesday it would impose limits on the number of central government inspection campaigns directed at local authorities, saying local officials were at risk of being “overwhelmed”.

In a notice posted by Xinhua, the General Office of the Communist Party’s Central Committee said grass-roots officials had become prone to bureaucratic thinking as a result of excessive supervision and inspection.

The constant need to comply with central government inspections and assessments also led local officials to choose form over substance when it came to implementing policies, and normal operations were being disrupted, it said.

The notice said central government organs would no longer be permitted to launch their own inspections without the authorisation of the State Council, China’s cabinet.

The central government should carry out comprehensive inspections once a year involving multiple ministries, to avoid duplication, it said. Inspection work should be coordinated by the general office and the cabinet in the form of an annual plan.

China’s central government has traditionally struggled to impose its will on local authorities worried about the impact of new legislation on jobs and economic growth. It has been trying to crack down on grass-roots corruption as well as so-called protective umbrellas, in which local authorities shield companies from costly state policies in areas like environmental protection.

Xi Jinping seeks to strengthen grass roots reach through Communist Party branches

It said in August that it would launch a nationwide campaign to ascertain how well policies in areas like poverty alleviation, environmental protection and the revitalisation of the rural economy were being carried out.

But a tough environmental campaign last year also raised concerns that Beijing was trying to impose “one size fits all” restrictions on regions whether they complied with clean production standards or not.

China was also forced to take action against “perfunctory” or “fraudulent” compliance on the part of local governments and enterprises, with officials accused of gaming the system by tampering with monitoring equipment or manipulating emissions data.