A plan on reforming government institutions in China released on Thursday has given the ruling Communist Party — and its leader Xi Jinping — even more direct control over key areas of policymaking, from finance and Hong Kong affairs to science and technology.
The reforms will further move decision-making out of the State Council, which comprises government ministries and is headed by the Premier. The power to make policy will now rest with newly set up party committees directly under the CPC Central Committee, which is headed by Mr. Xi, and leave the government to essentially execute policy.
This is the second major restructuring of the party-state machinery by Mr. Xi, who began a third term as General Secretary in October 2022 and was endorsed by the ceremonial legislature for a third term as state President last week. The moves have reversed a decades-long effort, going back to the 1980s, to separate party and state, with the aim of building a professional bureaucracy.
Mr. Xi has brought back direct party control over the bureaucracy, and in the first round of reforms in 2018, created new central commissions for foreign policy, economic reforms, and other matters, including fighting corruption.
The second such plan, released on Thursday, said a Central Commission for Finance will be set up “to strengthen the Central Committee’s centralised and unified leadership over financial work” which will be in charge of “top-level planning, coordination, overall advancement of financial stability and development and for supervising the work’s implementation.”
Similarly, a Central Commission for Science and Technology will be tasked with “pushing forward the building of a national innovation system and structural scientific and technological reform, studying and deliberating major strategies, plans and policies for the country’s sci-tech development, and coordinating efforts to resolve major issues of strategic, guiding and fundamental significance in the sci-tech sector.”
Also announced was a new Central Committee for Social Work, which was given a particularly broad political mandate of strengthening party work at the “grassroots” as well as “party building work in mixed-ownership and non-public enterprises”, which could mean greater party control over the private sector.
Ground Zero | China’s massive Hainan bet
The top body in charge of Hong Kong affairs, the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, has also been moved out of the State Council and will now report directly to the Central Committee, the plan said..