Mechanism needed to ensure local officials in Northeast China are diligent and proactive

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-25 0:53:01

China will soon publish guidelines for revitalizing the old industrial bases in Northeast China and other regions, according to media reports. The news has again attracted people's attention to the predicament facing Northeast China.

The report came after Lu Hao, governor of Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, apologized last week for making a mistake earlier this month by saying that Longmay Group, the biggest State-owned coal miner in the province, had never been late in paying salaries to its workers. In his apology he suggested that inaccurate reporting of the late payment problem by lower-level officials in Longmay led to his mistake.  

The fact that Lu did not receive accurate information from lower-level officials about the payment issue at Longmay points to problems regarding some local officials' negligence and failure to fulfill their duties.

Once the country's laudable industrial base where China's industrialization was launched, the three provinces in Northeast China - Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning - are now facing difficulties in their economic development. They were three of the four provincial-level regions that reported the lowest GDP growth last year.

China has paid increasing attention to rejuvenating the old industrial bases in recent months and is busy drafting a specific road map. According to media reports, the implementation of the Made in China 2025 strategy will serve as a focal point for revitalizing Northeast China, and the region will become a new manufacturing base for advanced equipment.

It appears that the country is moving in the right direction to revitalize the old industrial bases with appropriate policy measures, but the question that remains is how the local governments in Northeast China can build an efficient mechanism to improve the executive abilities of local officials. 

The authorities will have to rely on these officials to implement economic reforms to revitalize the old industrial bases, and whether the civil service at the local government level is conscientious and proactive will be directly related to the success or failure of the reforms.

China does not lack experience in this regard. There are various complex factors constraining government policy measures in some Western countries, but the situation is different in China.

The achievements in China's reform and opening-up have been partly the result of efforts by government officials who have been creative in pursuing reform.

This spirit of working hard needs to be remembered. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in May 2015 that there is nonfeasance and perfunctoriness among some officials, stressing the need for ideological education to help them adapt to the new situation. The problem of local officials being slack at work deserves particular attention in Northeast China.

The government has to create an effective mechanism to encourage officials in Northeast China to be proactive, creative and diligent.

Officials in the region should break the shackles of their old ideas and be creative in reform. Relying on investment in heavy industries is not enough to revitalize the old industrial bases. The region cannot achieve its goal to become a new manufacturing base for advanced equipment by simply walking along its previous pathway for development. Innovation will be vital for the revitalization of the old industrial bases, and efforts to break the rigid way of thinking of some officials and introducing some new ideas of development will also be important.

To rejuvenate the nation's old industrial bases and build an innovative country, it is vital to make sure that officials are proactive and conscientious.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

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