China’s Congress approves government reshuffle plan

China 24

Government Reshuffle Explainer Chinese English with logo music

It is the Chinese government’s most sweeping bureaucratic overhaul in decades.

It’s a war on entrenched interests. The numerous directors and ministers whose offices have been removed probably won’t be enthusiastic about the changes, but Beijing believes they’re necessary reforms to make the government leaner and more efficient with fewer self-destructive turf wars.

Beautiful China Campaign

Specifically, the overhaul aims to better fight pollution and deal with climate change…all part of what President Xi Jinping described as a campaign to “to build a beautiful China.”

To fix water pollution in the old days one needed to find the Ministry of Land and Resources manager (国土资源部) who oversees underground water, and then contact the Ministry of Environmental Protection (环保部) if pollutants are in lakes and rivers. And, if it’s the farmland that’s polluted, one had to talk to officials at the Ministry of Agriculture (农业部). If it’s the ocean, the State Oceanic Administration (国家海洋局). Now, these offices are all under one roof—at the newly set up Ministry of Ecological Environment (生态环境部).

Issues such as overfishing in public waters, overgrazing on public grassland to unrestrained logging in public forests were once overseen by separate ministries—with little coordination between them. Now they are all merged into the new Ministry of Natural Resources.

Cutting Red Tape

To own a business in China, an entrepreneur needed to get licenses and permits from bureaus in charge of business registration, product quality, quarantine, and food and drug safety. Now, the National Market Regulatory Administration Bureau will become an one-stop shop for entrepreneurs. The new body will also oversee business competition and practices—such as  antitrust regulation.

Managing Risks

To unify a fragmented regulatory system and reduce financial risk, the insurance and banking watchdogs are now combined into one agency. And, to cope with risks of natural disasters, the separate agencies dealing with earthquake, flooding, forest fires or landslides are now grouped together under the new Ministry of Emergency Management (国家应急管理部).

Going Global

The restructuring shows China’s intention to go global.

The NPC created new ministries on immigration and international development. (国家移民管理局和国家国际发展合作署).

They will oversee the country’s immigration policies, international aid programs and economic and financial projects such as the Belt and Road initiative.

People First

Many changes concern ordinary Chinese.

A new public health commission has been set up, de-emphasizing government limits on the number of babies a couple can have and refocusing on policy for healthcare and an aging society

The new Ministry of Veteran Affairs is expected to provide better service for those who fought for their country.