context: While many of Beijing’s initiatives seek to enhance Party control, State Council focuses much of its attention on deregulation, trying to shift government efforts away from administrative approval to providing services and overseeing policy by strictly supervising implementation and outcomes.

Han Zheng 韩正 State Council vice premier chaired the plenary meeting of the State Council’s new Reform and Coordination Group on 27 July and emphasised the need to transform government functions, specifically easing away from the idea that government agencies should play the dominant role in making administrative decisions.

Han stated that the reforms proposed for discussion during the meeting were important measures to speed up modernising governance, specifically by innovating supervision and allowing the market to play a decisive role in making decisions about where the major priorities lie. In that way, he argued, government would focus on providing more satisfactory services and a business-friendly environment, and the market would be more standardised, healthier and more sustainable because it would play a larger role in deciding what resources should be allocated and where.

Supervision of government functions, Han noted, would use the Internet, big data and other modern information technologies. Regulatory standards and rules are to be unified, legal guarantees and training of law enforcement personnel strengthened, and the social credit system improved.

Han directed members of the Group to set up information channels and effective means to directly understand the situation in the grassroots, and put forward suggestions for deepening reform. The overall aim, he noted, was to ensure that enterprises and the masses truly feel the transformation of government functions and the improvement of the business environment.