China's legislature Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a government overhaul in an attempt to bring the tenets of capitalist-style market reforms into the inner workings of government.
The government restructuring, the most ambitious since market reforms began pushing aside central planning in China 20 years ago, could eliminate more than a quarter of government ministries and commissions and cut its 8 million-member central bureaucracy by half.The bureaucrats, who once set steel production and grain rations among other targets, would be prevented from micro-managing industries. China instead would rely on finance and tax policies, the way most countries do, to steer the economy.
Delegates to the Communist Party-dominated National People's Congress voted 2,814 in favor against 63 "no" votes or abstentions, a wide margin even by the standards of the largely docile legislature.
"This is how it should be. More than 90 percent of us were in favor. I very much support these measures," said Niu Huilan, a delegate from Shandong province.
"Lawmakers have unanimous views on major issues," said a report by the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
Although victory was never in doubt, the leadership appeared unusually anxious to limit debate. The vote came five days after the plan was introduced. No open, congress-wide debate was held, and deputies instead deliberated the merits in largely closed-door discussion groups.
Party General-Secretary Jiang Zemin observed the vote from inside the main assembly room of the Great Hall of the People.