A look at China’s new structural reforms

A look at China’s new structural reforms

BEIJING, CHINA — Chinese lawmakers have announced sweeping structural reforms to the country’s top regulatory bodies, from finance to big data.

Here are some of the key changes announced in recent days at the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing:

Science and technology ministry reshuffle

China’s Ministry of Science and Technology will be reorganised, according to plans released by the State Council, pouring more resources into manufacturing and research as Beijing pushes for self-reliance in the face of foreign attempts at “containment and suppression”.

The reshuffle aims to help China achieve self-reliance in high-tech sectors that have recently become subjects of fierce global competition, such as semiconductors and Artificial Intelligence.

Oversight will also be strengthened through the Central Commission on Science and Technology, a new body which will “enhance the Party’s leadership in the sector”, according to a report by state media outlet China Daily.

A new National Data Bureau

Beijing will also set up a new institution tasked with managing digital resources — previously supervised by a patchwork of regulatory agencies.

The National Data Bureau (NDB) will be in charge of “coordinating and promoting the construction of data infrastructure”, as well as “the integration, sharing, development and utilisation of data resources”, said Xiao Jie, the State Council’s new secretary-general.

Having long sought to augment China’s international competitiveness in the digital arena, this new institution will help Beijing harness the vast troves of data generated by the country’s 1.4 billion people.

Public statements by authorities indicate that the NDB will be granted an extensive scope, although responsibilities pertaining to digital security are expected to remain under the guise of the Cyberspace Administration of China.

More financial oversight

Another major reform announced is the establishment of a new centralised regulatory body for finance, replacing the existing China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.

The new watchdog will aim to streamline authorities’ control over the financial sector, closing regulatory loopholes between existing institutions and bringing it under the direct purview of the State Council.

Beijing has been playing a more proactive role in managing domestic finance in the wake of serious risks to the Chinese economy having been exposed in recent years, including a flailing property sector and worsening trade ties with the West.

The newly established regulatory body is expected to assist authorities in their recent efforts to rein in Chinese business titans.

Speeding up the legislative process

China’s rubber-stamp parliament also passed reforms allowing the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress — the legislature’s governing core — to enact laws after just one review session, according to Xinhua.

Amendments to the Legislation Law would accelerate the lawmaking process under certain emergency circumstances, although details regarding what kind of situations would qualify have not yet been made public.


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