Text by Ni Junchen
China launched its seventh government restructuring attempt of the past three decades after the plan for institutional reform and functional transformation of the State Council was passed at the First Session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC).
After the closure of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in November 2012, the newly-elected Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee made the decision to launch a new round of government institutional restructuring. The same month, a task force responsible for drafting relevant documents was formed, headed by Wang Yongqing, director of State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform (SCOPSR), and comprised of members and experts from relevant departments of the State Council.
During the 2013 sessions of the NPC and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Ma Kai, state councilor and secretary-general of the State Council, elaborated the restructuring plan, noting that the number of the ministries under the State Council would be reduced from 27 to 25. Major tasks of the plan include dissolving the country’s Ministry of Railways into administrative and commercial arms as well as integrating and reorganizing authorities in charge of health, family planning, food and drugs, press and publication, radio, film and television, oceanic administration, and energy.
Since 1982, China has carried out seven large-scale government institutional restructurings. According to members of the document drafting team, unlike the previous six restructuring plans called “institutional restructuring of the State Council,” the latest plan was dubbed “institutional restructuring and functional transformation of the State Council,” testifying to its major goal to transform governmental functions. The overall principle of the reform plan is to consistently push the restructuring of government departments when conditions are ripe while maintaining comparative institutional stability of the State Council on the basis of thorough consideration of China’s current situations, as well as the risks and challenges it faces.