Second, we intensified reform and opening up to invigorate the market.
Rather than adopting strong stimulus policies that would have an economy-wide impact, we continued to move forward with structural reform. We intensified reform to streamline administration, delegate more powers, improve regulation, and provide better services. We delegated the power or cancelled the requirement for government review for 311 items, cancelled the requirement for verification or approval for 123 professional qualifications, and put a complete stop to the practice of non-administrative review. The number of items which require government approval for new businesses prior to registration was cut by 85%, and the system of a separate business license, organization code certificate, and taxation registration certificate was replaced by a unified business license with a unified social credit code. Both operational and post-operational oversight over businesses were strengthened, and public service procedures were improved. Government-related procedures for individuals and businesses were made much simpler, such that enthusiasm for stepping out into business and making innovations is rising by the day.
Fiscal, tax, financial, and other key reforms were deepened. The central government cut, by one third, the number of items for which special transfer payments are permitted, while scaling up its general transfer payments. Steady progress was made in replacing business tax with VAT. Ad valorem taxation was extended to cover more types of resource taxes. The upper limit of the floating band on deposit rates was removed, the deposit insurance system was introduced, and the RMB cross-border payment system was established. Pricing reform was intensified, with the number of central government set prices reduced by 80% and the number of local government set prices cut by more than 50%. We carried out state-owned enterprise (SOE) reforms, rural reforms, and investment and financing reforms, ecological management reforms, and others. Efforts to intensify reform in all respects are beginning to deliver results.
Momentum was created for reform and development through opening up. We worked hard to keep foreign trade stable by adjusting the mechanism for sharing the cost of export tax rebates between the central and local governments, overhauling and regulating charges for imports and exports, increasing trade facilitation, and making changes to the export mix. The number of restrictions on overseas investment in China was cut by 50%, and over 95% of overseas-funded projects may now be undertaken on a simple reporting basis. China utilized US$126.3 billion of overseas investment, an increase of 5.6%. Non-financial outward foreign direct investment reached $118 billion, up 14.7%. Pilot free trade zones were established in Guangdong, Tianjin, and Fujian based on the model of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone. The RMB was included in the IMF's Special Drawing Rights basket. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank was officially inaugurated, and the Silk Road Fund opened for business. China signed free trade agreements with the Republic of Korea and Australia, respectively,and signed the Protocol to Amend the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between China and ASEAN. Progress was made in the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative (the Belt and Road Initiative), the pace of our industrial-capacity cooperation with other countries was stepped up, and breakthroughs were made in China's export of high-speed railway and nuclear power equipment.
Third, we worked to promote industrial innovation and upgrading to improve economic performance.
To strengthen the new growth engines, an innovation-driven development plan was adopted along with guidelines on its implementation, policies and measures were introduced to encourage public participation in starting businesses and making innovations, and the Internet Plus action plan was implemented. A great number of makers started businesses and made innovations. Improvements were made to policies in support of agriculture to promote transformation of the agricultural growth model. In addressing the decline in industrial growth and the downward slide incorporate performance, we worked to foster new industries and upgrade traditional ones. We launched the Made in China 2025 initiative to upgrade manufacturing, set up government funds to encourage investment in emerging industries and to develop small and medium-sized enterprises, and established more national innovation demonstration zones. We cut overcapacity and encouraged business acquisitions and restructuring. Cuts made in outdated production capacity over the past three years have included over 90 million metric tons of steel and iron, 230 million metric tons of cement, over 76 million weight cases of plate glass, and more than one million metric tons of electrolytic aluminum. The development of production- and consumer-oriented service industries picked up momentum. We took serious measures to conserve energy, reduce emissions, and protect the environment, exceeding obligatory targets. We released self-imposed emissions reduction targets and contributed to the positive outcomes of international negotiations on climate change.
Fourth, we promoted coordinated development between regions and the new type of urbanization to expand development space.
Work continued to promote the coordinated development of the eastern region, the central region, the western region, and the northeast; priority was placed on moving forward with the Three Initiatives-the Belt and Road Initiative, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration initiative, and the Yangtze Economic Belt initiative. A number of major projects were also launched to develop infrastructure, improve the distribution of industries, and achieve ecological and environmental conservation. Policies and measures were introduced to promote the development of Tibet, Xinjiang, and Tibetan ethnic areas in the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, and Qinghai. We pressed ahead with the reform of the household registration system, adopted a residence certification system, and stepped up the development of urban infrastructure, making progress in developing new urbanization.
Fifth, we promoted the reform and development of social programs to improve living standards.
Despite fiscal constraints, we continued to intensify efforts to help ensure the wellbeing of our people. New policies were launched to create jobs and business startup opportunities for college graduates and those with difficulties finding employment. Over the course of the year, 7.72 million government-subsidized housing units were basically completed in urban areas, work started on the reconstruction of 6.01 million housing units in rundown urban areas, and 4.32 million dilapidated houses in rural areas were rebuilt, helping large numbers of families that are struggling with housing realize their dream of having a home to settle in. We moved more quickly to improve conditions in badly built and poorly operated schools providing compulsory education in poor areas, deepened the reform of the professional title system for elementary and secondary school teachers, and increased the number of students from poor rural areas who were enrolled in key institutions of higher learning by a further 10.5%. Comprehensive reform was carried out in all public hospitals at the county level, the coverage of the serious disease insurance scheme was extended to more rural and non-working urban residents, a system of assistance for treating major and serious diseases was put in place, and a system for providing living allowances for people with disabilities who are in need and for granting nursing care subsidies to persons with severe disabilities was established. We increased subsistence allowances, benefits for entitled groups, and basic pension benefits for enterprise retirees, implemented the reform of the pension system for employees of Party and government offices and public institutions, and improved their wage system. Efforts to develop basic public cultural services were also intensified. All of this has resulted in a stronger sense of benefit in society.
Sixth, we developed new ways of conducting law-based administration and governance to promote social harmony and stability.
The State Council submitted 11 legislative proposals to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and enacted or revised eight sets of administrative regulations. Efforts were accelerated to increase government transparency and expand the application of e-government and online administration. We set up a mechanism to inspect and establish accountability for the implementation of major government policies and introduced third-party evaluations. We responded effectively to natural disasters and emergencies. Efforts were stepped up to ensure workplace safety; as a result, we have seen a continued reduction in the number of total accidents, including the number of accidents of a serious or large-scale nature as well as those in industries where accidents tend to be more common. We moved ahead with the demonstration initiative to ensure food safety. We strengthened all-round efforts to maintain law and order and cracked down on crimes in accordance with the law to safeguard public security.
The campaign to build understanding of the Three Stricts and Three Honests* was intensified, the CPC Central Committee's eight-point decision on improving Party and government conduct continued to be implemented, action was taken against formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism, and extravagance, and rigorous efforts were made to carry out the State Council's three-point decision on curbing government spending. Administrative supervision and oversight through auditing were strengthened. We stepped up efforts to improve Party conduct and government integrity and fight corruption, and brought a number of offenders to justice.
We marked the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the Global War against Fascism. This anniversary was a reminder of China's place in history as the main theater in the East during the Global War against Fascism and its major contribution to the war effort. The Chinese people marked this occasion to demonstrate their dedication to safeguarding peace and upholding justice together with other peoples.
Over the past year, China's all-round diplomacy has delivered fruitful outcomes. President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders have visited many countries and attended international events including the United Nations summits, the G20 Leaders Summit, the 23rd APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the East Asian leaders' meetings on cooperation, and the World Economic Forum annual meeting 2016. The Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation and the China-EU Leaders' Meeting were held, and the China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Forum was inaugurated. Fresh progress was made in China's relations with other major countries; pragmatic cooperation with neighboring countries was strengthened; friendship and cooperation with other developing countries grew; relations with the United Nations and other international organizations and mechanisms were strengthened in all areas; and notable achievements were made in economic diplomacy and cultural exchanges. As a responsible major country, China played an important constructive role in international and regional affairs.