Changes in Fo­cus

The mas­sive State Coun­cil re­struc­tur­ing cre­ates new min­istries, cuts or merges oth­ers By Yuan Yuan

Beijing Review - - Npc Cppcc Close-up -

The in­sti­tu­tional re­struc­tur­ing plan of the State Coun­cil, China’s cabi­net, was adopted on March 17 at the Fifth Ple­nary Meet­ing of the First Ses­sion of the 13th Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress (NPC), the na­tional leg­is­la­ture of China. It is the coun­try’s “big­gest gov­ern­ment reshuf­fle in years” as Xin­hua News Agency com­mented and is seen as a dra­matic con­tin­u­a­tion of the pre­vi­ous seven rounds of cabi­net re­struc­tur­ing that be­gan in 1982.

“The re­form is un­prece­dent­edly large, deep and ex­pan­sive,” said Guo An, an NPC deputy and Mayor of Nan­chang, cap­i­tal of east China’s Jiangxi Prov­ince. “It will op­ti­mize the gov­ern­ment’s func­tions by pro­mot­ing co­or­di­nated ac­tions and im­prov­ing lev­els of man­age­ment and pub­lic ser­vice to bet­ter sat­isfy peo­ple’s ex­pec­ta­tions and na­tional de­vel­op­men­tal needs in a new era.”

A mas­sive move

In to­tal, the num­ber of min­is­te­rial-level en­ti­ties was re­duced by eight and that of vice-min­is­te­rial-level en­ti­ties by seven af­ter the reshuf­fle.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­struc­tur­ing plan, func- tions that have long over­lapped are in­te­grated. For ex­am­ple, the four min­istries of land and re­sources, wa­ter re­sources, en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion and agri­cul­ture were in­volved in wa­ter pol­lu­tion treat­ment and preven­tion be­fore the shake-up. When wa­ter pol­lu­tion was ex­posed by the me­dia or lo­cal res­i­dents, th­ese de­part­ments of­ten passed the buck among them­selves in­stead of deal­ing with the prob­lem im­me­di­ately. The new Min­istry of Eco­log­i­cal En­vi­ron­ment will be re­spon­si­ble for com­pil­ing and im­ple­ment­ing eco­log­i­cal and en­vi­ron­ment poli­cies, plans and stan­dards, as well as eco­log­i­cal and en­vi­ron­ment mon­i­tor­ing and law en­force­ment, aim­ing to put all prob­lems con­cern­ing pol­lu­tion un­der one roof.

“The re­form comes at a cru­cial time,” Chen Xi, head of the Or­ga­ni­za­tion De­part­ment of the Com­mu­nist Party of China (CPC) Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, said in an ar­ti­cle in the Peo­ple’s Daily. “It will sup­port the ef­forts over the next three years to­ward building a mod­er­ately pros­per­ous so­ci­ety and lay a foun­da­tion for building a great mod­ern so­cial­ist coun­try by the mid­dle of the cen­tury.”

“When a frog jumps into a river, it is in the charge of the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture. But when the frog is back on land, it is the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Forestry’s re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said Lou Ji­wei, a mem­ber of the 13th Na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence (CPPCC), China’s top po­lit­i­cal ad­vi­sory body, re­fer­ring to the pre­vi­ously rigid divi­sion of re­spon­si­bil­i­ties be­tween gov­ern­ment de­part­ments. “It is th­ese types of prob­lems that have con­fused peo­ple about where they should go when they need con­sul­ta­tion or help.”

Nie Weiguo, a CPPCC Na­tional Com­mit­tee mem­ber and Direc­tor of the Executive Office of the Three Gorges Project Con­struc­tion Com­mit­tee of the State Coun­cil, ap­plauded the abol­ish­ment of the com­mit­tee, which over­saw the world’s largest hy­dropower project on the up­per reaches of the Yangtze River. The func­tions of the com­mit­tee will be in­cor­po­rated into the Min­istry of Wa­ter Re­sources. “We have al­ways clashed with the Min­istry of Wa­ter Re­sources since our re­spon­si­bil­i­ties over the Three Gorges Project over­lapped,” Nie said. “It has been a headache for me for a long time.”

Nie said even though some cen­tral

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