Business / Opinion

New type of bureaucrat needed for a new task

By Ed Zhang (China Daily Africa) Updated: 2014-06-06 08:12

New type of bureaucrat needed for a new task

It will take time and many changes of the guard before economic transition is accomplished

Why must China always have others guess about its next move? Why are there doubts in the global business media about China's chance of making a successful transition in its economic model, as its leaders have famously pronounced?

One reason is that onlookers all expect instant results. But in a big country's major undertakings, no result can be had so soon.

As recent developments in China have revealed, the transition of an economy won't pass its point of no return until the country has welcomed an entire new generation of economic officials. It wouldn't be a transition in just economic significance.

A report on the government website, posted on June 3, explains much of the inevitability.

The report quotes Premier Li Keqiang speaking at the State Council executive meeting on May 30: "I've noticed on my field trips at the grassroots level that there are places where government officials just fail to do their job.

"Some of them would rather not do a stroke of work so long as there isn't any problem to disturb them. And some regard it as their best achievement if only they can just get by."

Then Li stressed: "If I'm allowed to be more straightforward, I would say what ineptitude this is." Such ineptitude and laziness are also corruption, he said.

What the premier meant by grassroots level could be any level below his office. He reportedly became emotional when he asked those who represented various State commissions and ministries: "Have you all implemented State Council policies? Have you each taken your responsibility? Or should I remind you of your duty?"

Such a reproachful remark led China Business News, a domestic publication, to speculate that Li must have pounded the conference table when he was saying it.

Whether he did doesn't really matter. What matters are the implications for investors.

First, it seems that from the central level down, some officials still can't follow the ideas of the leaders who assumed office one year ago, or what the Chinese call the Xi (Jinping)-Li (Keqiang) team, referring to the country's president and premier.

Many Chinese officials are qualified development officials. You could call them GDP officials. They have learned to boost the GDP in one area by investing heavily in local public infrastructure and offering sweet terms to big investors, especially manufacturers of export products.

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