Although China's market reforms have transformed its major steel makers into
modern, international corporations, the government still plays a key role in
regulating the strategically important industry.
"The government's role is necessary for big deals; foreign parties are
monopolies while Chinese parties are diversified and do not have significant
bargaining power," the state newspaper China Daily on Friday quoted Mei Xinyu, a
Commerce Ministry researcher, as saying.
Ma said that this year the Chinese government plans to shut down the smallest
and least technologically advanced steel furnaces in order to reduce the
industry's heavy use of energy and water, as well as to reduce a supply glut for
"In 2006, the strategy for iron and steel production in China is to control
the size of this sector and reform its structure," he said.
Ma also affirmed government plans to emphasize environmental protection
following two decades of rapid growth that have badly polluted China's air and
He said the government's latest five-year economic plan, unveiled at the
country's annual meeting of parliament last week, does away with specific
economic growth targets and instead imposes mandatory environmental quality
"We are aware we cannot develop our economy at the expense of tomorrow," he
said. "We will stick to a path of sustainable development."