Posts tagged ‘National People’s Congress’

05/03/2014

How Committed Is China to Reform? A Tip From ‘The Old Perfessor’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ

One of the most important questions in the global economy is the commitment to reform by China’s new leaders. Are they more reform-oriented than the last crew, who talked a lot about economic reform but often didn’t carry through?

China Real Time did a quick analysis based on the philosophy of Casey Stengel, the garrulous former manager of the New York Yankees and Mets known by the nickname “The Old Perfessor.” As Stengel often said, “You can look it up.” So we did.

In his just-delivered 2014 work report, Premier Li Keqiang, used the word “reform” 84 times in his lengthy address.  Last year, former Premier Wen Jiabao used “reform” a mere 51 times.

“Transformation?” Mr. Li, 17; Mr. Wen, 5.

What would Mr. Li like to reform? Among many other things: socialism, markets, government, agriculture, science, investment, taxes, finance and schools.

And what would he transform? Industry and foreign trade mostly.

It won’t be easy to do all this, Mr. Li warned:  “China’s reform has entered a critical stage and a deep water zone,” he told delegates to China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress. “We  must rely fully on the people, break mental shackles and vested interests with great determination.”

Or as  Mr. Stengel reportedly said: “Without losers, where would the winners be?”

via How Committed Is China to Reform? A Tip From ‘The Old Perfessor’ – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

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25/04/2013

* Xi Jinping orders generals and senior PLA officers to serve as privates

SCMP: “Chinese generals and senior officers will have to serve as the lowest-ranking soldiers for at least two weeks under a measure by President Xi Jinping to shake up the military and boost morale.

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Xi, as the nation’s commander-in-chief, issued the order over the weekend, which the Ministry of National Defence publicised on its website.

It dictates that officers with the rank of lieutenant-colonel or above must serve as privates – the lowest-ranking soldier – for not less than 15 days. Generals and officers will have to live, eat and serve with junior soldiers during the period.

They need to provide for themselves and pay for their own food. They must not accept any banquet invitation, join any sight-seeing tours, accept gifts or interfere with local affairs

“They need to provide for themselves and pay for their own food. They must not accept any banquet invitation, join any sight-seeing tours, accept gifts or interfere with local affairs,” said the directive, which covers both the People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police.

Leaders of regiment- and brigade-level units have to serve on the front line once every three years. Division- and army-level commanders must serve once every four years. Top leaders from army headquarters and military districts will do so once every five years.

The measure recalls a similar shake-up launched by Mao Zedong in 1958. Mao at the time famously said all military leaders should serve as foot soldiers for a month every year.

He used the chance to strengthen his control of the military and forced many powerful marshals and generals into retirement or exile.”

via Xi Jinping orders generals and senior PLA officers to serve as privates | South China Morning Post.

22/03/2013

* As Pollution Worsens in China, Solutions Succumb to Infighting

NY Times: “China’s state leadership transition has taken place this month against an ominous backdrop. More than 16,000 dead pigs have been found floating in rivers that provide drinking water to Shanghai. A haze akin to volcanic fumes cloaked the capital, causing convulsive coughing and obscuring the portrait of Mao Zedong on the gate to the Forbidden City.

So severe are China’s environmental woes, especially the noxious air, that top government officials have been forced to openly acknowledge them. Fu Ying, the spokeswoman for the National People’s Congress, said she checked for smog every morning after opening her curtains and kept at home face masks for her daughter and herself. Li Keqiang, the new prime minister, said the air pollution had made him “quite upset” and vowed to “show even greater resolve and make more vigorous efforts” to clean it up.

What the leaders neglect to say is that infighting within the government bureaucracy is one of the biggest obstacles to enacting stronger environmental policies. Even as some officials push for tighter restrictions on pollutants, state-owned enterprises — especially China’s oil and power companies — have been putting profits ahead of health in working to outflank new rules, according to government data and interviews with people involved in policy negotiations.

For instance, even though trucks and buses crisscrossing China are far worse for the environment than any other vehicles, the oil companies have delayed for years an improvement in the diesel fuel those vehicles burn. As a result, the sulfur levels of diesel in China are at least 23 times that of the United States. As for power companies, the three biggest ones in the country are all repeat violators of government restrictions on emissions from coal-burning plants; offending power plants are found across the country, from Inner Mongolia to the southwest metropolis of Chongqing.

The state-owned enterprises are given critical roles in policy-making on environmental standards. The committees that determine fuel standards, for example, are housed in the buildings of an oil company. Whether the enterprises can be forced to follow, rather than impede, environmental restrictions will be a critical test of the commitment of Mr. Li andXi Jinping, the new party chief and president, to curbing the influence of vested interests in the economy.”

via As Pollution Worsens in China, Solutions Succumb to Infighting – NYTimes.com.

15/03/2013

* China confirms Li Keqiang as premier

BBC: “China’s leaders have named Li Keqiang premier, placing him at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy.

Mr Li, who already holds the number two spot in the Communist Party, takes over from Wen Jiabao.

Mr Li was elected for a five-year term but, like his predecessor, would be expected to spend a decade in office.

On Thursday, Xi Jinping was confirmed by legislators as the new president, completing the transition of power from Hu Jintao.

Li Keqiang’s widely-signalled elevation was confirmed by 3,000 legislators at the National People’s Congress, the annual parliament session, in Beijing. He received 2,940 votes to three, with six abstentions.

From humble beginnings, Li Keqiang has risen high in politics, but his career has not been without controversy. During the mid-1990s a scandal of stunning proportions devastated many rural communities in Henan. Thousands of farmers and their families contracted HIV after receiving contaminated blood transfusions. Most infections in the government-backed blood-selling scheme happened before Li Keqiang became the province’s party boss. But he was widely criticised for silencing those speaking out.

Many villagers still travel to Beijing every year to protest about the issue. One demonstrator told the BBC she hoped Li Keqiang would pay more attention, saying she had still not received any compensation. But others have seen a different side to the politician. One gay-rights activist told the BBC that Li Keqiang was very “easy-going” during a recent meeting. “He didn’t act at all like a government official,” said Kong Lingkun. “During the discussion he wanted everyone’s opinion and he encouraged us to speak freely.”

China’s new premier likes to project an image that he’s modern, sophisticated and ready to listen. But he has also shown he can be ruthless when the party’s reputation is at risk.

As premier, he will oversee a large portfolio of domestic affairs, managing economic challenges, environmental woes and China’s urbanisation drive.

The appointments seal the shift from one generation of leaders to the next. A raft of vice-premiers and state councillors will be named on Saturday, before the NPC closes on Sunday.

Mr Li, 57, who is seen as close to outgoing leader Hu Jintao, speaks fluent English and has a PhD in economics.

He has called for a more streamlined government, eliminating some ministries while boosting the size of others.

The son of a local official in Anhui province, he became China’s youngest provincial governor when he was tasked to run Henan.

But his time there was marked by a scandal involving the spread of HIV through contaminated blood.

Mr Li is expected to end the NPC with a press conference on Sunday, given by Wen Jiabao in the past.

via BBC News – China confirms Li Keqiang as premier.

14/03/2013

* Xi Jinping named president of China

BBC: “Leaders in Beijing have confirmed Xi Jinping as president, completing China’s 10-yearly transition of power.

Mr Xi, appointed to the Communist Party’s top post in November, replaces Hu Jintao, who is stepping down.

Some 3,000 deputies to the National People’s Congress, the annual parliament session, took part in the vote at the Great Hall of the People.

The new premier – widely expected to be Li Keqiang – is scheduled to be named on Friday, replacing Wen Jiabao.

While votes are held for the posts, they are largely ceremonial and the results very rarely a surprise.

Mr Xi, who bowed to the delegates after his name was announced but made no formal remarks, was elected by 2,952 votes to one, with three abstentions.

He was named general secretary of the Communist Party on 8 November and also given the leadership of the top military body, the Central Military Commission.

China’s parliament engaged in a political ceremony that involved all the hallmarks of a real election: a ballot box, long lines of delegates queuing to vote, and a televised announcement of a winner. However, no-one was surprised to hear the results: with a whopping 99.86% of the vote, Xi Jinping was anointed President of the People’s Republic of China and Chairman of the People’s Liberation Army.

In November, Mr Xi was elevated to the top spot in China’s Communist Party. However, he did not become the country’s official head of state until his candidacy was approved by China’s parliament.

According to China’s constitution, almost 3,000 NPC delegates are allowed to “elect” candidates for the state’s top positions. However, in practice, delegates merely endorse the names put forward by the party.

Perhaps the only interesting result of the election is that Mr Xi did not receive 100% of the ballot. One person voted against him and three people abstained. The result leaves some in China to wonder: perhaps, in an act of modesty, Mr Xi voted against himself.

This vote, handing him the role of head of state, was the final stage in the transition of power to him and his team, the slimmed-down, seven-member Standing Committee.

The largely symbolic role of vice-president went to Li Yuanchao, seen as a close ally of Mr Hu and a possible reformist.

The 61-year-old, who is not a member of the Standing Committee, has in the past called for reforms to the way the Communist Party promotes officials and consults the public on policies.”

via BBC News – Xi Jinping named president of China.

10/03/2013

* China scraps railways ministry in streamlining drive

BBC: “China has dissolved its powerful railways ministry in a raft of measures aimed at boosting government efficiency and tackling corruption.

Travellers at the Beijing West Railway Station, Jan 2013

The railways ministry, which has been criticised for fraud and wasting funds, now comes under the transport ministry.

The family planning commission, which oversees the controversial one-child policy, joins with the health ministry.

China is holding its National People’s Congress, which will cement its once-in-a-decade leadership change.

Communist Party chief Xi Jinping will become president, replacing Hu Jintao, while Li Keqiang will replace Wen Jiabao as premier.

In his work report, which opened the congress last week, Mr Wen promised stable growth, anti-corruption efforts and better welfare provision.

The latest streamlining of ministries reflects the public’s and leadership’s concern at corruption and the wasteful overlapping of bureaucracy.

State Council Secretary-General Ma Kai told the congress that “breach of duty, using positions for personal gain and corruption” had not been effectively tackled.

 

He said poor supervision had led to “work left undone or done messily”.

Mr Ma said that overlapping of duties within various ministries had often led to officials passing the buck.

The streamlining abolishes four bodies and cuts the number of ministries by two to 25. The food and drug administration will become a fully fledged ministry, following a number of tainted product scandals.

The railways ministry has been slow to change.

Former railways minister Liu Zhijun was sacked in 2011 and is facing corruption charges.

The new structure will place construction and the management of services under the new China Railway Corp, while safety and regulation will come under the transport ministry.

It is unclear whether placing the family planning commission under the health ministry indicates a rethink of the one-child policy.

However, the Communist Party says it will continue to set policy on the issue, with family planning continuing “on the basis of stable and low birth rates”.

A number of maritime agencies are to be pulled into a single administration as China faces rising disputes over sovereignty in the East and South China seas.

The National Oceanic Administration will have control over the coastguard forces, customs and fisheries enforcement.

The two media watchdogs, the General Administration of Press and Publication and the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, will also be merged.”

via BBC News – China scraps railways ministry in streamlining drive.

09/03/2013

* Women Gain Ground in China. Or Do They?

WSJ: “On this year’s Women’s Day, a host of Chinese media outlets are trumpeting a new study that finds China’s businesses rank the highest in the world for employing women in senior management roles.

The proportion of women in senior management in China has climbed to 51% this year, up from 25% in 2012 and outpacing the global average of 21%, according to the study, produced by the Beijing arm of accounting firm Grant Thornton. In a survey of 200 businesses in China, 94% of them employed women in senior roles, the study said.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Woman do manual labour in a garden outside an office block on International Women’s Day in Shanghai on March 8, 2013.

The survey’s findings would seem to represent great news for women in a country with a long history of entrenched patriarchy – except they conflict significantly with other studies that show Chinese women have actually been losing ground in the labor force, politics and society.

One recent study by National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the New York-based Asia Society, for every five Chinese men who rises to a senior position in the workplace only one woman achieves the same level of advancement. The ratio is even more lopsided inside the Communist Party: In the party’s Central Committee, where major policy decisions are discussed, only 10 of the 205 members are women, and no woman has ever held a spot on the Politburo Standing Committee, the party’s top decision-making body.

Things are slightly better in the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, where 23% of the 2,987 delegates are female.

In the World Economic Forum’s gender equality index, an annual ranking of countries by their ability to develop, retain and attract female talent, China’s ranking declined to 69th last year, down from 57th in 2008.”

via Women Gain Ground in China. Or Do They? – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

05/03/2013

* China Internet Executives Get a Seat at the Table in Beijing

WSJ: “Between questions of censorship, laws that require complicated listings in U.S. markets, and fierce and often public confrontations between companies, China’s Internet industry has always had an uncomfortable relationship with the government.

So it’s no small thing that this year, for the first time, the government took special steps to ensure more representatives from the industry could join China’s rubber-stamp parliament, the National People’s Congress, and its advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

According to two people who were part of the consultation process to choose delegates, the change primarily reflects the government’s recognition that leaders of the relatively new industry can be counted among China’s most important business leaders. In August, the United Front Work Department, the branch of the party in charge of bringing in useful people who are not party members to cooperate with the party, held a meeting attended by representatives from about 20 of China’s most important Internet companies, according to a person who attended. At the meeting, the representatives were asked about issues facing the industry, what leaders they thought should be nominated and also what other people should be consulted, according to the person.”

via China Internet Executives Get a Seat at the Table in Beijing – China Real Time Report – WSJ.

04/03/2013

* Reforms and Restructuring at the Chinese NPC Session: Managing Expectations

China Policy Institute: “This year’s Lianghui, the National People’s Congress (NPC) and People’s Political Consultative Conference (PPCC), is important in the sense that a new government will be “sworn in”.

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Following last November’s Party Congress, the Premier-in-waiting will be confirmed at the NPC session. He will take up his position together with a whole new cabinet—following the forming of a new Central Committee of the Party, ministers are expected to be reappointed as well, with a five year term ahead.

But the more critical question is what policy initiatives will the new government press ahead in order to show that it is the right government for the country. The new Party leadership emerged out of the last November’s Party Congress carries a strong mandate of “reform”. Now that the honeymoon effect between the new leadership team and the country is starting to fade away, citizens are watching carefully what the leadership indeed has to offer in terms of real actions.

Before the Party’s Congress, there was already indication that the new leadership team would take structural reforms quite seriously. There was indication that Xi Jinping was already commissioning reform proposals throughout the last 1-2 years. Li Keqiang, to be confirmed as Premier at this Lianghui, was also quick to signal that he was a reform guy and his government will take concrete reform measures. But it will be too early to expect the leadership team to roll out a comprehensive reform plan at this Lianghui. Between the conclusion of November’s Party Congress and this Lianghui, there was simply not enough time to forge a consensus among the Party elite.

The main preoccupation of the last three months have been lining up the provincial leaders and working out the political appointments of state agencies, which will be unveiled at the end of the NPC session. In fact, the Party Plenum (the second of this new Central Committee) that closed last night (28 Feb 2013) explicitly said in its communique that it had agreed on the political appointment list for state agencies. It did not give explicit promises of reform policies that are soon to come.”

via China Policy Institute Blog » Reforms and Restructuring at the NPC Session: Managing Expectations.

03/03/2013

* Spill in China Lays Bare Environmental Concerns

NY Times: “The first warning came in the form of dead fish floating in a river.

 

Then officials in this city got confirmation that a chemical spill had taken place at a fertilizer factory upstream. They shut off the tap water, which sent residents into a scramble for bottled water. In the countryside, officials also told farmers not to graze their livestock near the river.

The spill, which occurred on Dec. 31, affected at least 28 villages and a handful of cities of more than one million people, including Handan. Officials here were irate that their counterparts in Changzhi, where the polluting factory was located, had delayed reporting the spill for five days. For the past two months, Changzhi officials and executives at the company running the factory, Tianji Coal Chemical Industry Group, have generally stayed silent, exacerbating anxiety over water quality.

The conflict over the Changzhi spill has drawn attention to the growing problems with water use and pollution in northern China. The region, which has suffered from a drought for decades, is grappling with how industrial companies should operate along rivers. Local officials are shielding polluting companies and covering up environmental degradation, say environmentalists.

“Problems with water weren’t so serious before, but they have become much worse with industrial consumption,” said Yin Qingli, a lawyer in Handan who filed a lawsuit in January against Tianji, which uses water to convert coal to fertilizer at the factory in Changzhi.

Environmental degradation has led many Chinese to question the Communist Party’s management of the country’s economic growth. Addressing the problem is one the greatest challenges for the administration of Xi Jinping, the new chief of the Communist Party. Environmental issues will most likely be on the agenda at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress, scheduled to begin on Tuesday.”

via Spill in China Lays Bare Environmental Concerns – NYTimes.com.

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