BEIJING - The 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) convened its second plenary session on Tuesday to discuss the restructuring of government departments and candidates for state leadership posts.
Those attending the plenary session, which will run from Tuesday to Thursday, will discuss a list of candidates for state leadership positions that will be proposed to the first annual session of 12th National People's Congress (NPC).
They will also discuss a list of candidates to fill leadership roles for the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The list will be proposed at the first annual session of the 12th CPPCC National Committee.
The lists were proposed by the Political Bureau of the 18th CPC Central Committee.
A draft plan on institutional restructuring and the transformation of government department functions will also be discussed at the CPC Central Committee plenary session.
The first annual session of the 12th NPC will begin on March 5, while the first annual session of the 12th CPPCC National Committee will commence on March 3.
NPC sessions held in early 2008 and 2003 were highlighted by the discussion and approval of the State Council's institutional reform plans.
Government restructuring efforts were launched following a March 2008 parliamentary session that resulted in the establishment of several "super ministries," including the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the Ministry of Transport, and the reduction of the number of major ministries to 27.
How China will carry out super-ministry system reforms this time around has drawn widespread attention both at home and abroad.
Observers believe new changes in the State Council's restructuring plan echo policy signals delivered by the 18th CPC National Congress that convened in November last year.
"We should...make the government better perform its functions of creating a favorable environment for development, providing quality public services and maintaining social fairness and justice," the CPC congress report said.
The report, which is widely seen as a weathervane that can detail the ruling party's future policy direction, vowed steady efforts to advance reforms in order to establish larger government departments and improve how their functions are divided.
The draft government restructuring plan is expected to focus on upgrading the State Council's administrative efficiency and concepts.
Xin Ming, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said that instead of just going for larger government departments, institutional reforms should include a transformation of the departments' functions.
"Government organs should improve their management and service ideology," he said.
A CPC Political Bureau meeting held on February 23 indicated that the upcoming reforms would be carried out in an active and prudent manner, with priority given to the transformation of department functions.
Xin said inefficiency is still rife in many areas of government. "To name an example, food safety inspection duties are shared by nine different departments."
A draft of the institutional restructuring and transformation of the State Council's functions includes measures for improving the country's food and drug safety inspection system.
Some analysts said the restructuring is only part of China's political reform and that the CPC Central Committee plenum is expected to send signals of reform in a number of areas.
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