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China’s communist party centralizes power over finance, pollution control

BEIJING: The Chinese government said on Tuesday that it planned to overhaul supervision of the country’s debt-ridden financial sector, its environmental regulators and other essential government agencies in a broad move intended to further consolidate the Communist Party’s hold on official levers of power.
Premier Li Keqiang asked the National People’s Congress, the country’s legislature, to approve a plan that would combine China’s banking and insurance regulators in an effort to bolster their ability to monitor financial institutions. At the same time, both agencies would relinquish some of their broad policy responsibilities to China’s central bank, which would acquire an even greater role in preserving financial stability in what is now the world’s second-largest economy.
The plan, which is set for essentially automatic approval by the legislature in the coming days, would also take many responsibilities away from the National Development and Reform Commission, a bastion of central economic planning and heavy industry, and from a variety of other, older commissions and bureaus often perceived as cozy with the industries they regulate.
The moves could consolidate bureaucracies that have long overlapped, and at times clashed, hindering effective policy.
But more broadly, the proposals are part of a plan that President Xi Jinping laid out last month aimed at strengthening the top-down control of the Communist Party. The plan released on Monday focused on government reorganization, but Mr. Xi and other officials have stressed that any changes are intended to strengthen, rather than dilute, party control.
Liu He, President Xi’s right-hand man in overseeing the economy and financial system, outlined the party’s central role in the reorganization in a lengthy statement published on Tuesday morning in People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party. Mr. Liu, an economist, was promoted to the party’s Politburo last year.

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