Chinese officials should downplay their obsession with economic growth and focus more on people's livelihoods and the environment, as the country moves toward a more balanced work evaluation system.
A circular on improving the work evaluation of local Party, government leadership and officials stressed that "gross regional product (GRP) and its growth rates should not be the only main indicators of the evaluation of local officials' work achievements, and charts with this data must be banned."
The document was released Monday by the Organization Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.
China's central government traditionally assesses the performance of local authorities mainly through economic indices like GRP, which has resulted in some local governments sacrificing the environment and residents' well-being for better GRP figures.
"More distinctive and pertinent assessment indices should be created in accordance with the specific obligations of leaders and officials at different levels and in different regions," said the statement, citing the integration of sustainable economic development, people's livelihoods, social harmony and ecological protection.
Local officials should transform assessments. Rather than being based on GRP and development speed, they should focus on development quality, growth mode and potential. It should stand the test of time and of the people, according to the circular.
According to the document, greater emphasis should be given to indicators related to the waste of resources, environmental protection, eliminating excess capacity and production safety.
Also, evaluations in the fields of scientific innovation, education, culture, employment, income, social insurance and health should be strengthened.
It urged local authorities to abandon the development model of "high investment and heavy pollution for fast growth rates" and warned them against unpractical "image" or "vanity" projects.
They must also reduce redundant, overlapping assessments and abolish those standards that are contradictory to stipulations from central government.
However, regions with restricted development and key impoverished counties with fragile ecosystems should be exempt from GRP assessments.
Monday's circular echoed a key reform decision made last month by the CPC Central Committee which included a statement that local governments in ecologically fragile areas will not be pressed to pursue economic growth.
"Central authorities should not base their regional development evaluations simply on product volumes, and local Party and government organs at various levels should not base assessments of lower-level leadership and officials simply on such data either," said the circular.
The document stressed that economic development is not necessarily linked to officials' ethics, abilities and cleanhanded work style, and it should not be the sole basis for the dismissal and promotion of personnel.