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China to restrict powers of government agencies

Updated: Mar 26,2015 5:14 PM

China will make great efforts to prevent government agencies from “legalizing their own interests”.

Premier Li Keqiang made the comments at the State Council executive meeting on March 25, which resulted in the confirmation of the State Council’s goals this year regarding legislation.

Responding to proposals by several government agencies to accelerate legislation concerning their duties and powers, Premier Li said administrative powers should be “strictly controlled” by law.

He said that China aims to “streamline administration, delegate power to lower levels, and transform government functions.” All the rights and responsibilities of the government should be granted by law, and the authorities should avoid exceeding the bounds of their authority by releasing documents substituting for laws.

New administrative approval processes should be strictly controlled by law, so as to prevent government agencies from “legalizing their own interests”, the Premier said.

He also said that the government has successfully delegated some power to lower levels in the past few years, but administrative power is still not sufficiently streamlined, as the government remains overstaffed.

Premier Li said some officials hold onto their posts but behave inappropriately. “They fail to fulfill their responsibilities when the government needs to take action, and can’t resist intervening when the government needs to hold back,” he said.

Legislation should be coordinated with reform. Government departments must divest themselves of powers that run counter to the people’s interests, the Premier added.

But Premier Li said advancing the rule of law is a gradual process, and China should be flexible while abiding by the “basic framework” and “respecting social and cultural traditions.”

“China is a big country with 1.3 billion people. We cannot use one principle to solve all the problems in such a big nation. That is not practical and it does not demonstrate flexibility, as it may hinder the development of the country’s various regions,” the Premier said.

He said current legislation should take future reforms into account, and China should not allow “unreasonable laws” to impede the progress of future reforms.