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China in full sail with deepening reform

China Daily, January 19, 2016 Adjust font size:

Defined as "the key year of comprehensively deepening reforms," 2015 saw a series of milestones achieved by China.

While existing measures were being implemented, China in 2015 kept pushing its reform campaign forward, and entered a "deep-water zone."

According to Xi Jinping, the Chinese president and also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, 101 key reform missions set by the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform were completed last year and the whole campaign maintained good momentum.

In 2015, over the course of 11 meetings, the leading group formulated reform programs that covered more sectors and underlying issues, manifesting the resolve of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping as the General Secretary in comprehensively deepening reform.

Greater attention was paid to overall planning and rule of law. The CPC Central Committee also showed more resolve in ensuring measures were effectively implemented.

Against a complicated economic backdrop, at home and abroad, the CPC Central Committee strived to adapt to the new normal with reforms that addressed issues that could hold back economic development.

Also, to create new economic growth points, a more innovation-friendly system is taking shape, with leading group meetings discussing innovation-related reforms on four occasions.

Reforms to invigorate state-owned enterprises (SOEs) also saw progress. After prudent research and review, a guideline was released in September to further modernize SOEs, enhance state asset management, promote mixed ownership and prevent the erosion of state assets.

The opening-up policy, reforms about the country's pricing mechanism, rural development and market-oriented interest and exchange rate reforms also made steady progress last year.

At a meeting in November, Xi called for more attention to push for supply-side structural reform, which will address outstanding issues like excess capacity, housing overhang, and "zombie" SOEs with poor profitability.

Political reforms promoted

In 2015, the CPC Central Committee has ensured political reforms follow a political development path characterized by Socialism with Chinese Characteristics while improving the People's Congress system.

Progress to promote the system of People's Congress included scientific and democratic legislation.

The National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliamentary body, adopted a revision to the Legislation Law at its annual session in March 2015.

The revised law, which improved the legislative system and further clarified legislative power while streamlining procedures, is of great significance to China's socialist legal system.

Moreover, a CPC Central Committee document in February 2015 proposed stepping up "consultative democracy" to improve scientific and democratic policy-making.

Consultative democracy is defined as a democratic pattern in which, led by the CPC, all sections of society are consulted on major issues before and during the policy-making process.

China also issued a guideline to promote law-based governance, vowing to build a rule-of-law government by 2020.

To achieve these goals and solve prominent problems in governing in accordance with the law, guidelines are needed to serve as "a blueprint and roadmap."

A rule-of-law government features scientific functions, statutory rights and responsibilities, strict law enforcement, openness, justice and integrity, while being free of corruption, efficient and observant of the law.

To promote social equity and justice, a series of measures have been taken to improve judicial reform in the past year.

Officials who interfere in judicial cases will now be "named and shamed," to prevent this practice and advance the rule of law.

According to rules issued by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the General Office of the State Council in early 2015, judicial personnel are obliged to keep detailed records should interference occur, no matter who is involved.

Tackling "soft" problems

Apart from boosting "hard power" such as economic and military capacities, the realization of the Chinese Dream also needs the efficient handling of "soft" problems.

In the nation's capital, residents crave the azure blue skies seen during the World War II anniversary parade.

Knowing perfectly well that many existing measures are unsustainable, the leadership is moving toward a longer-term plan.

During a leading group meeting in July, a series of plans on environmental supervision were adopted.

The package includes a better monitoring network, independent auditing of officials and a system to net official whose decisions damage the environment.

At the opening ceremony of the Paris climate summit, President Xi Jinping said China will, on the basis of technological and institutional innovation, adopt new policy measures to improve the industrial mix, build a low-carbon system, develop green buildings and low-carbon transportation and establish a carbon-emission trading market.

In a significant move to balance population growth, the family planning law was amended to allow couples to have two children, ending the one-child policy that had existed for decades.

In the field of culture, the central authorities ushered in a series of measures to help the cultural market.

The measures include a pilot project to reform the management structure of publications and media, an overhaul of existing art awards, and support for local artists.

Party management

According to Xi, comprehensive and strict management of the Party demands all kinds of measures to effectively solve various conflicts and problems within the Party, and Party organizations at all levels must keep a firm hand on personnel management.

Officials having won the trust of the Party and the people should be appointed and promoted. Meanwhile, a new regulation issued last year promised that inept officials would be demoted or dismissed.

Stressing ethical and disciplined Party management, the CPC uses the Party code of conduct, which is stricter than the law, as an unassailable bottom line for Party members' behaviors, and "the key minority" of high-level officials are made the top anti-graft targets.

Entrusted with a crucial role, discipline inspectors found and provided clues to more than half of all major corruption cases handled by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) since the anti-corruption drive was intensified after the 18th CPC National Congress in late 2012.

The CCDI now has inspection agencies to cover all central Party and government departments.

The CPC has also sent out groups of reform inspectors to make sure that policies and measures are fully implemented.

Inspectors focus on key reform areas such as reform of the residence registration system, judicial aid, pensions, family-planning policies as well land, environment and medical projects.h In order to understand the real situation, inspectors have been to the actual sites, done a lot of research and solicited opinions of the masses.

Feedback from such inspections have provided valuable reference for the CPC Central Committee to push through reform.