Liaison offices targeted again

Updated: 2011-10-08 08:08

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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Those allowed to remain will be strictly regulated

BEIJING - The central government will continue to close liaison offices of local governments that should have been shut last year but continue their activities in other guises in Beijing.

To close the offices, the Government Offices Administration of the State Council will organize officials to spot-check and boost the self-supervision of local authorities, Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.

The Government Offices Administration released a statement at the beginning of last year saying the liaison offices in Beijing of county-level administrative bodies - such as counties, county-level cities and districts - must be closed within six months. It released a list of 625 offices that were to be closed by November 2010.

However, some of them are still operating after changing their names to restaurants or hotels and moving to other communities across the capital, the Beijing News reported in September.

The Government Offices Administration said it will urge local governments to liquidate their offices' assets and dismiss their workers in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the remaining liaison offices set up by provincial-level governments or agencies will be regulated in the future, the Xinhua report said.

An employee surnamed Zhou at a Beijing office of Jiangsu province said the liaison offices exist mainly to serve local officials and establish an information bridge between the central and the local governments.

"We have 13 offices in the city after last year's closures," he said, adding that most of those closed worked mainly on attracting trade and investment.

Many liaison offices of local governments help the stability of Beijing by communicating with and pacifying local people who have come to the capital to appeal to higher authorities, Zhou said.

Experts welcomed the central government's decision to end the liaison offices of county-level governments, but said the government must find a more effective way of closing these offices.

"Most county-level Beijing offices have become reception centers for local officials when they come to the capital," said Zhu Lijia, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance.

"And many grassroots officials have a great need for such offices to handle their transportation, shelter and food problems in the capital."

The county-level liaison offices serve a purpose in the city, which, to some extent, can explain why they repeatedly re-emerge after crackdowns, Zhu said.

Ren Jianming, a professor from Tsinghua University, said many of the central government's policies are not transparent by the time they reach local areas and that the funds were distributed unequally among local governments, so that county-level authorities surge to the capital and strive for their interests.

"I think the major governmental departments should help the county-level offices deal with administrative affairs and give economic support to them," he said, adding that the partial elimination campaign will not be very effective in putting an end to such offices.

China Daily