Streamlining administration has been one of Premier Li Keqiang’s buzzwords since he handed down the annual work report three years ago.
“To see that businesses and public benefit more from our reforms to streamline administration, delegate powers, and improve regulation and services, we must cut red tape, level the playing field, and provide greater convenience, and remove that last crucial hurdle,” Premier Li stressed while delivering this year’s government work report on March 5.
He has described the process as self-imposed reform of the government.
“The reform is about curbing government power, which will require real sacrifice and will be painful, and the new government is determined to make the sacrifice,” he said at a press conference after the national legislative session closed in 2013.
The Premier promised then that the Chinese government would cut the existing 1,700 administrative approval items by at least one third in the coming five years.
To that end, the Premier has made continuous efforts over the years in cutting bureaucracy, speeding up the transformation of government functions and providing more conveniences for people.
At a meeting about simplifying administrative procedures and delegating power on Nov 21 in Shanghai, Premier Li asked grassroots government departments to think of the common people when carrying out bureaucratic tasks, and urged them to conduct win-win interactions with the public.
As a result of his efforts, two popular unlicensed restaurants, A Da Scallion Pancake Shop and a family wonton shop in Shanghai, which had been closed since August 2015, were reopened.
A private bookstore run by a young man which was shut down due to the complicated administrative approvals, as well as taxes and fees charged by various departments, was also reopened.
Since 2013, the State Council has abolished 491 items that previously required administrative approval, and delegated 127 items of approval to lower levels.
In addition to policies to facilitate a bigger role for the market, as stated by the previous government report, this year’s report also emphasized reducing government discretion and more independent market selection.
“We should let more enterprises and people benefit from the achievement of the reform of streamlining administrative approvals, delegating power to lower governments and improving services,” the Premier said, urging authorities to continue to overcome the last hurdle.