Business / Macro

China makes major strides in pressing ahead with reforms

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-09-26 10:38

BEIJING - Saturday marked the 1,000th day since the establishment of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform, which is headed by President Xi Jinping.

Over the course of the 27 meetings convened by the leading group since its establishment on Dec 30, 2013, hundreds of measures have been formulated and released to address hard-nut-to-crack problems in areas including urbanization, poverty alleviation, innovation and the market's role in resource allocation.

Reform with results

In one case, Yang Linhai, principal of a local filter manufacturer in Weixian County of Xingtai City in north China's Hebei province, said his application to run a company was approved within 24 hours, which was impossible in the past because of complicated approval procedures.

He recalled that, prior to late 2014, one needed to submit at least 28 types of materials to five different departments. In December of that year, the province's first administrative examination and approval bureau was set up in the county to pilot reform.

Yang's experience reflects the results of the country's overall reform to streamline administrative power and delegate power to lower levels. The reform is meant to stimulate entrepreneurship and support private enterprises and small firms, which play a central role in job creation.

Since 2012, Chinese businesses have saved 640 billion yuan ($95.97 billion) under a reform plan to replace business tax with value-added tax (VAT), benefiting 5.92 million taxpayers, official data showed.

VAT reform was completely rolled out starting in May 2016. VAT is favored partly because it can reduce double taxation and lift the burden on Chinese firms, especially smaller ones.

With the deepening of reform, more than 500 billion yuan is expected to be saved this year, marking the largest tax reduction since the new government was inaugurated in 2013.

Over the past three years, the plan has addressed some reforms that had long stalled, including judicial reform, fiscal and taxation reform, reform of the household registration (hukou) system, remuneration reform of state-owned enterprises, public hospital reform, and rural land reform.

At the latest meeting of the leading group on Aug 30, Xi called for solid efforts to press ahead with the planned reforms in accordance with the established timetable and roadmap.

First step, strong start

Since 2013, the Chinese central authorities have made strides in carrying forward the comprehensive reform package to ensure people equally share the results and are satisfied with the reform.

Liu Wenying, head of the pediatric surgery department at Sichuan Provincial People's Hospital, has high expectations for strengthened reform of children's medical and health services.

"The planned reform targets will force local authorities to do more to ease the shortage of pediatricians and hospital beds for children," Liu said, adding that the reform is highly anticipated by parents and doctors.

According to the latest reform plan issued by the National Health and Family Planning Commission, China will have 22 hospital beds per 10,000 children and about seven certified or assistant doctors per 10,000 children by 2020.

China's sixth national census in 2010 showed the country had 220 million children under the age of 14. The two-child policy is expected to bring a surge of births among the generation born after 1985, causing heavier pressure on children's health services.

Authorities have also increased investment in poverty relief since 2013.

In Qizhai Village of Dawu County in central China's Hubei province, 12,000 mu (800 hectares) of tea was grown on formerly barren mountains thanks to the government's poverty alleviation program.

The program has helped more than 200 poor households make ends meet, with an average increase of income of 20,000 yuan for each person.

From 2012 to 2014, over 52 million -- almost the population of a medium-sized country -- poor rural residents were lifted out of poverty. And the country will need to do more to alleviate poverty as around 50 million people still live under the poverty line.

Noting the first 1,000 days were just the first step in a long journey, Chinese central authorities pledged to continue comprehensively deepening reform and consider the public's aspiration for the reform process.

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