China governance blueprint signals continuing crackdown

‘Efforts to curb unjust interventions in micro-economic activities’

A new government blueprint issued by China to promote “rule of law” has called for “more legal and institutional efforts” to tighten what it called “unjust” micro-economic activities, signalling the ongoing crackdown on a number of sectors is likely to continue.

The document was issued jointly on Wednesday by the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee and the State Council, or Cabinet, of the Government, and called for “building a rule of government” during the current five-year plan period (2021-25). It called for “strengthening the Party’s leadership for the building of a government based on the rule of law”.

The new blueprint suggests the recent regulatory crackdown aimed at tightening control over some industries is likely to continue. Late last year, regulators launched investigations into alleged monopolistic practices of top tech companies, including Alibaba and Tencent, and took the unprecedented step of stopping at the last minute what was set to be a record-breaking IPO for Alipay, the financial payments arm of Alibaba.

This year, crackdowns have followed targeting ride-sharing app Didi Chuxing and the entire private education sector. The moves have wiped out close to $1 trillion in value for leading Chinese tech and education companies, according to estimates.

“Identifying promoting the rule of law for government as the main task in advancing law-based governance in all areas, the document highlighted the guiding philosophies, principles, and overall goals of this cause for the next five years,” the official Xinhua news agency reported, adding the document “urges improving government functions in various fields, including economic adjustment, market supervision, social management, public service, and environmental protection.”

It called for “more legal and institutional efforts” to “curb unjust interventions in micro-economic activities”, as well as “concrete efforts to prevent the administrative power from eliminating or stifling competition.”

The document also called for “strengthened enforcement of anti-monopoly and anti-unfair competition laws” and highlighted as key areas “national security, bio-security, infectious diseases prevention and control, and digital economy.”

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