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China unveils new state council amid function reform

Updated: 2013-03-18 08:19

A great test for the new state council will involve transforming how the government functions and correcting defaults and overlaps in duty and work to build a well-structured, clean, efficient and service-oriented government that has scientifically defined functions and that the people are satisfied with, observers say.

Function transformation is the core of the State Council's institutional reform plan, which is not simply institutional restructuring. The transformation will mark new and significant progress in deepening China's administrative system reform.

The reform means the new state council will exert more efforts to overcome difficulties and problems, speed up the transformation of China's economic growth mode and achieve sustained and sound economic and social development.

In the reform plan adopted by the NPC, the Ministry of Railways has been abolished. Administrative functions pertaining to railway development planning and policies will be covered by the Ministry of Transport. The proposed China Railway Corporation will carry out the commercial function of the dismantled railway ministry.

Transport Minister Yang Chuantang, 58, kept his post. In a country with the biggest population and third-largest land area in the world, Yang faces the tough task of accelerating the construction of the country's comprehensive transport system.

The Health Ministry and the National Population and Family Planning Commission were merged into a new National Health and Family Planning Commission. The merge is aimed at improving the quality of new births and the health condition of the people. The new commission is also in charge of assessing food safety risks and formulating food safety standards.

Li Bin, 58, heads the National Health and Family Planning Commission. She is one of two female state council members. She was head of the National Population and Family Planning Commission in the previous state council and later became governor of Anhui Province, making her the only female governor in China.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has undertaken the task of laying out population development strategies, plans and policies.

Meanwhile, the State Electricity Regulatory Commission was dissolved and merged with the National Energy Administration, which is under the jurisdiction of the NDRC.

Deepening reform and achieving substantial progress in key sectors and processes will be an urgent challenge for Xu Shaoshi, the 61-year-old minister of the NDRC.

In addition to the China Marine Surveillance, the department in charge of enforcing maritime law, the regrouped National Oceanic Administration (NOA) also includes the coast guard forces of the Public Security Ministry, the fisheries law enforcement command of the Agriculture Ministry and the maritime anti-smuggling police of the General Administration of Customs.

The NOA is administered by the ministry of land and resources, headed by 60-year-old Jiang Daming. Jiang had been governor of Shandong Province for five years. He will handle the tasks of improving land resource development and carrying out maritime law enforcement to resolutely safeguard the country's oceanic rights and interests in a highly efficient way.

Three state council members -- Wan Gang, minister of science and technology,Wang Zhengwei, minister in charge of the state ethnic affairs commission and Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People's Bank of China, are also vice chairmen of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the country's top political advisory body.

Wan Gang, 60, is the only non-communist in the state council. Wan, chairman of the China Zhigong Party's Central Committee, was also chairman of the 11th National Committee of the CPPCC. He is the first ministerial-level non-communist in the state council since the start of country's reform and opening up drive more than 30 years ago. One of Wan's key tasks will be to deepen the reform of the management system for science and technology and promote innovation-driven development.

Wang Zhengwei, 55, of the Hui ethnic minority group, is the youngest of the state council members. He was previously chairman of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region for about five years. Overseeing the implementation and improvement of the regional ethnic autonomy system will be his most important task.