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Chinese government invalidates outdated documents to boost efficiency

Zhang Yue
Updated: Jun 15,2016 8:42 PM

The State Council decided to invalidate hundreds of outdated documents in an effort to tackle conflicts in regulations or between policy documents and regulations, and improve administration efficiency.

The decision was made at the State Council’s executive meeting on June 15, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.

“Our goal, by invalidating these outdated documents, is to get rid of outdated regulations that hinder market potential, entrepreneurial spirit and innovation,” Premier Li said.

Over 500 documents that affect the country’s sustainable growth, structural reform and people’s livelihood were deemed invalid after the meeting on June 15. All had been issued between 1978 and 2013, during which China started its reform and opening up strategy, and gradually integrated itself into the global context. Some documents were issued in particular social and economic contexts. Over decades, many new regulations covering similar areas were issued to better suit the country’s new evolving reality, causing potential overlaps with the old ones, which were still legally effective and had not been systematically overhauled, causing confusion in some sectors.

Major documents being invalidated this time include those that are obviously not adapted to a market economy, or unnecessarily restrictive in enterprise operations, pricing and fund management, blocking enterprise potential. Also, certain rules regarding approval for market access, investment, vocational qualifications and residency need to be further delegated or eliminated.

Documents related to workplace safety and food security will not be affected.

In December 2015, a total of 489 outdated documents were made invalid as part of the first stage of document overhaul. An office was set up under the State Council to work on the task, consulting related departments and experts, and sometimes netizens.

Premier Li also called for all related government departments to better streamline administration, and delegate power to lower tiers, sending clear and accurate messages of China’s commitment at home and abroad.

The move is in line with government efforts to transform government functions, streamline administration and delegate power to lower tiers. It also helps governments at all levels to work more effectively with less institutional costs that arise from regulations that have outlived their usefulness, and improve government credibility.