National People’s Congress: mega-ministry plan unveiled

Yesterday, China unveiled its plan for revamping the country’s State Council, equivalent to a cabinet. The total number of cabinet agencies, which includes ministries and commissions, will shrink to 27, from 28. In addition, five new mega-ministries will take seats on the State Council, eliminating or subsuming some predecessor organizations. To dampen expectations, government officials have indicated that this revamping is a first step in a streamlining process that won’t be complete until 2020. So expect more changes in the coming years. We outline some of the major changes announced yesterday below:

  • The State Environmental Protection Administration is being elevated to a Ministry of Environmental Protection, highlighting an increased focus on controlling environmental pollution.
  • A new Ministry for Housing and Urban, Rural Construction, replacing the Ministry of Construction, will focus on providing better and more affordable housing in China’s burgeoning cities.
  • A new Ministry of Transport will replace the Ministry of Communications and the General Administration of Civil Aviation. The expanded ministry will manage road, water and air traffic under a single body. This ministry will also focus on ensuring China’s build-out of infrastructure meets China’s growing needs.
  • The Ministry of Health will absorb the State Food and Drug Administration, taking over responsibility for food safety and drug regulation, which have seen a number of scandals over the past year.
  • A Ministry of Resources and Social Security will be established, subsuming the Ministry of Personnel and the previous Ministry of Labor and Social Security.
  • A new Ministry of Industry and Information will take over industry monitoring responsibilities from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). The new ministry will also absorb the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, the Ministry of Information Industry, the State Council Information Office, and the State Tobacco Monopoly Bureau.
  • The NDRC will narrow its focus to macro-planning and cease to monitor specific industries. A National Energy Commission will be set up under the NDRC to oversee energy policy, which highlights the importance of energy security.