Social issues on agenda as government seeks ways of further reform

Source:Global Times Published: 2015-3-2 20:08:01

China's appetite for deepening reforms is strong, especially social programs. How to further deepen social reforms may be one of the foremost questions that the two sessions, the third session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) and that of the National Committee of the 12th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, will seek to answer in the following days.

Taking an overview of our process of reform since the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in 2013, in which the comprehensive reform plan has been launched, more attention has been paid to social reforms, for example, loosening the decades-long one-child policy while allowing eligible couples to have a second child, accelerating the reform of the hukou (residence permit) system to help farmers become urban residents, and coordinating urban and rural development.

Such discussion as well as momentum of further deepening social reforms will continue in the coming days and years. Just as Chinese President Xi Jinping said recently during the 10th meeting of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Continuing Reform, continued efforts, concrete measures that are endorsed by the public are needed in comprehensively deepening reform, in order to let the public actually feel the progress and the benefits.

In order to do that, the government will need comprehensive approaches, such as to balance itself with the market and society, by making itself more efficient, making society more orderly, and making the market more vigorous.

So far, we have already brought up and implemented the reform of simplifying administrative procedures and delegating power to lower levels, giving the local governments or units more flexibility to manage local issues, letting the market play a "decisive" role in allocating resources, and improving efficiency of governments when it comes to serving the people. In 2014, the State Council has canceled over 700 administrative procedures or transferred them to the lower levels.

But new questions are emerging along with the process of reform. First, some administrations are reluctant to decentralize their power, considering the approach as giving up their own power and interests. Thus, they started to divide their power into separate parts and only partially delegated responsibility to the lower levels.

Moreover, the local governments are getting more power to tackle social issues, but in the meantime, they are not getting the funds needed to do so. In the light of this, they are increasingly under pressure since they have an insufficient share of revenues but are covering growing public spending.

These factors have devalued the effect of our reform, and have become a tough nut to crack. At the same time, these  are questions with no easy answers. We have now entered a new stage where all the easy tasks are done, and what is left are the tough ones. Every step from now on to overcome the existing problems and the potential resistance will be far harder than before.

However, few big social reforms have ever taken place smoothly in ideal circumstances, and such drastic reforms in our country are bound to face challenges. That is why we need to discuss, to get over the barriers, and to clear our route forward. Just as Xi said before the two sessions, a batch of hard and concrete measures should be put forward, resistance will be overcome, and more effects of the reform will be felt by the public.

The article was compiled by Global Times reporter Li Aixin based on an interview with Jiang Yong, a research fellow with the Beijing-based National Strategic Research Center, Beijing Institute of Technology.

Read more in Special Coverage:

Posted in: Viewpoint

blog comments powered by Disqus