BEIJING, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- China's central departments have been ordered to make public catalogues of their administrative approval items, in a bid to make government power more transparent.
According to a circular issued by the State Council on Thursday, all central government departments should publish their remaining administrative approval items on their official websites in the coming days, so they can be viewed by the public.
The move came amid the country's drive to slash red tape.
The central government has cut or delegated to lower governments nearly 400 administrative approval items since the new leadership took office last March.
But how many items remain in central authorities is unknown.
The State Council, or China's cabinet, said it will combine the catalogues into a collective publication and take stock of the total items kept for central departments after heavy slashing.
Central government departments will not be allowed to intervene the approval of items not included in the catalogues they publicized, according to the circular.
Moreover, the circular warned them not to exercise extra-catalogue administrative approvals, nor reinstate exempted items under disguise.
Some central departments had already taken action before the order. Logging on the website of the Ministry of Education, a Xinhua reporter found a catalogue listing all its 24 remaining approval items in the middle of its homepage.
Administrative approvals are an important demonstration of government rights. Fewer approvals by central government will give more power to local governments and freedom to enterprises, which is believed to contribute to the economy.
The move is aimed to let government power be exercised under the sun, said Dong Keyong, dean of the public administration and policy school of the Renmin University.
It will help "put power into the cage of regulations," Dong said, quoting words that President Xi Jinping used in a vow to fight corruption.
He said that the approval items had long been a secret to the public and some departments even played games as they often add items under various excuses while the central government strives to exempt them.
In Thursday's circular, government departments are also required to solicit public opinions on further reductions of such approvals and give priority to fields in which the removal of administrative approvals may have had a good impact.
Regarding one Ministry of Education's approval item on the appraisal and selection of professors in higher learning institutions, a professor with a Beijing-based university, who refused to be named, had a word to say.
The appraisal of academic title is part of the university's independent rights and should be decided by universities, the professor said, adding that the appraisal criterion also varies in different universities.
He held that the the ministry should collect public views on whether or not the item will be kept.
With the deepening of China's administrative approval reform, local governments are also expected to publicize their approval item lists.
Premier Li Keqiang noted in a meeting earlier this week that China will establish a system to make all local governments' power regarding administrative approvals transparent.
East China's Zhejiang Province has announced that it will promote a "government power menu" system this year. Central province Anhui also asked local departments to "draw a diagram displaying the operation of power" in a pilot reform program.
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