Xi's vision helps shape improvements in systems to meet development needs
With China shifting from high-speed growth to high-quality development, the upcoming fourth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is expected to unveil new policies to improve China's systems and capacity of governance to better meet its development needs in the new era, analysts said.
The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee has decided that discussions about the way of adhering to and improving socialism with Chinese characteristics, as well as modernizing the country's governance — both part of the overarching goal of deepening overall reform — will top the agenda of the key tone-setting meeting.
Reforms of Party and State institutions launched in March 2018 were completed earlier this year and considered "revolutionary". For example, they involved a massive cabinet reshuffle to achieve a more efficient structure. They also integrated existing vested interests and reshaped interest patterns.
Zhu Lijia, a professor of public administration at the National Academy of Governance, said in an article that Party and State institutional reforms have paved the way for China to embark on a march toward a modern society with better governance and ultimately attain the goal of developing itself into a great modern socialist country before 2050.
Further redefining the role of government, modernizing public management, adjusting relations between central and local governments and consolidating the institutional framework for market forces are among the major aims of China's reform efforts.
Since 1982, State Council institutions have been reorganized seven times to adapt to changes that have been brought about by the country's economic development and social progress.
The latest reform was the most significant of its kind in nearly four decades in terms of scale and entrenched interests involved. It cut 15 ministerial or vice-ministerial-level departments under the State Council, regrouped some supervisory bodies and strengthened the Party's overall leadership.
A distinctive feature of the most recent reform was that it aimed to improve the efficiency of the State governance structure, bearing in mind the reality that the principal contradiction facing Chinese society has evolved into one between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for a better life. It also aimed to advance people-centered development, Zhu said.
President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, first called for modernizing the country's systems of governance at the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee in November 2013.
Xi presented a vision in which China would have a more mature and fully shaped governance system and use it to manage social affairs; to promote reforms, development and stability; to handle domestic, international and defense issues; and to govern the Party, State and military.
Since then, China has accelerated crucial transformations in governance and adapting institutions of the Party and State and the role of government to a market economy, with emphasis on transforming government functions and removing institutional barriers to allow the market to play a decisive role.
The transformation is also spurred by key problems that have emerged in economic development and social progress, such as environmental deterioration, major disparities in development between rural and urban areas, as well as between regions and with respect to income distribution.
All these problems are related to the country's governance systems and capacity, Xi said at the third plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee in January last year.
A fundamental solution to these problems calls for institutional readjustment and upgrades to push for the deepening of reforms in the economic, political, cultural, social and ecological sectors, and stepping up the building of a Party and State system of institutions and functions that is well conceived, fully built, procedure-based and efficient, he said.
Yan Jirong, a professor in Peking University's School of Government, noted that during China's reform and development process the development-oriented approach the country has pursued over the past decades led to an economic takeoff.
The new era of high-quality development calls for the governance-oriented model to advance the modernization and promote better development, Yan said.
The fourth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which was held in October 2014, set the course to comprehensively advance law-based governance in China.
According to a communique released after that meeting, to exercise State power based on law, the Party not only has to govern the country in accordance with the Constitution and laws but also has to ensure that its self-governance is in line with its own rules and regulations. The communique called for law-based governance, law-based exercise of State power and law-based government administration.
Pang Jinyou, vice-president of the School of Political Science and Public Administration at China University of Political Science and Law, said that modernizing the country's systems of governance can only be realized under the framework of the rule of law.
Speaking of the direction of reforms, Xi has stressed that the fundamentals of State governance in China are the strong leadership of the CPC and the socialist system. He told leading provincial and ministerial officials at a symposium in February 2014 that modernizing the system and capacity for governance is by no means to pursue a Western capitalist path.
Martin Jacques, author of the book When China Rules the World and a senior fellow at Cambridge University, said in a video interview on people.cn, the website of People's Daily, that the Chinese form of governance, contrary to Western prejudice, is remarkably effective and will serve as a model for the future development of other nations.
"China's governance is the most developed form of governance in the world," Jacques said, adding that it will spread by example, not by pressure.
"Other countries, including Western countries, will want to learn from Chinese statecraft and Chinese governance, even though they will still keep governing systems very different from those in China," Jacques said.