Government restructuring will make steady progress: Wang Feng

Wang Feng speaks at the press conference. Photo: Hong Mingyu/

Following the report on government restructuring and the transformation of government function by Ma Kai, secretary general of State Council, Wang Feng (王峰), vice-director of the State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform held a press conference at the 12th NPC press center in Beijing on March 11, during which he stressed several times that the government restructuring needs to be pursued steadily, one step at a time.

The core of this latest round of the Chinese government restructuring is focused on the “transformation of the government function”, which, as Wang pointed out, was not included in the title of the previous documents on this area.

To be more specific, the transformation entails two key points, one is to streamline administration and reform the current administrative approval system,  the other is to grant more power to the local governments and related non-governmental organizations. He also stressed that the government will enhance its supervision and macro-management in the above-said two areas at the same time.

As the only foreign media given the chance to ask questions during the one and a half hour press conference, the Wall Street Journal raised two questions. The first question about whether the reform of the Family Planning Commission spells the beginning of the end of China’s one-child policy was resolutely denied by Wang, who once again affirmed that “Family Planning”, as China’s basic national policy, will not be abandoned. Instead, Wang said it will be enhanced.

The second question, “who is going to pay the debts of the Chinese Ministry of Railways”, got  a non-answer response: the issue of the debts will be dealt with after the first step of breaking up the government management and the enterprise. “You will know the answer after a certain period of time.” Said Wang.

Another sharp question, coming from China Times of Taiwan was also given a vague answer. The question was about the resistance in this round of government restructuring. The three areas that were speculated by  the media but excluded from the reform: the “superministry of culture”, “superministry of energy” and “superministry of finance” were thought to be where the vested interest groups’ resistance was the strongest.

Wang admitted that there are difficulties with regards to the reform which entails a re-distribution of power. However, the difficulties are not strong enough to be called “resistance”. He once again reiterated that in the areas where things are unclear, the government will adopt a  “wait and see” approach. Reforms will only happen when the government is certain of the situation.

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