By Michael Evans
China is planning to create new ‘super ministries’ in an effort to streamline central government, with the merger of massive and often conflicting bureaucracies to be announced at the end of this year’s NPC.
The South China Morning Post reports that the central government plans to merge the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), and the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) into a media super-ministry, though officials have downplayed reports that a further reorganization would absorb the two administrations into the Ministry of Culture.
In addition, Reuters reports that some in the government are pushing for a super ministry to oversee energy issues, while many analysts expect the scandal-plagued Ministry of Railways to be merged into the transportation ministry.
China’s last major push at streamlining an often tangled bureaucracy came in 2008, when five super ministries were created along with new commissions for energy and environmental protection. That reorganization, like the present one, was seen as the brainchild of soon-to-be-premier Li Keqiang, who reportedly had tried but failed to merge the powerful railways ministry into the Ministry of Transportation. The 2011 Wenzhou train crash and a series of corruption scandals has made that task significantly easier this time around, as many have called for large-scale reform of China’s rail bureaucracy.
However some analysts have argued that rather than promoting better coordination and efficiency, the creation of additional super ministries will only create a series of ‘independent kingdoms’ that will stand in the way of deeper structural reforms and deregulation (see: state owned enterprises).