Xi Stresses Party Leadership over State-Owned Enterprises
On 11 October at a high-level national meeting Xi Jinping reaffirmed the centrality of Party leadership over China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs). According to the official Xinhua News Agency, Xi emphasised that under a stronger leadership from the Party—‘the root and soul’ of SOEs in his words—SOEs should serve to implement the decisions of the Party, to promote national projects such as One Belt One Road, and to strengthen China’s economic and social development and national power. Xi urged further reform of the management and supervision of SOEs in order to improve corporate profitability and competitiveness, and to increase the value of state assets. Xinhua reported that in 2016 central SOEs underwent merging and consolidation, and announced that next year the reforms will focus on cutting inefficiency and overcapacity of local SOEs. SOEs retain a dominant role in the Chinese economy: in the first half of 2016, the gross revenues of central and local SOEs (excluding financial companies) reached 21.39 trillion yuan, or more than sixty percent of the national gross domestic product. In the same speech, Xi pointed to state workers’ rights to ‘know, participate, express and supervise within the SOEs’, and referred to the role of workers’ congresses in the democratic management of the companies and in the resolution of labour disputes. This is likely in response to the state workers’ protests early this year against the government’s cutting of overcapacity in the steel and coal industries.