BEIJING, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- It surprised Xu Liping, a veteran of the tea business, that it only took two days to register her new branch in downtown Shanghai: Registration used to take a week.
"I used to shuttle between my company and government offices to go through complex procedures, but now it is a one-stop, even door-to-door service. Civil servants will help me avoid problems. They have changed a lot," said the businesswoman from east China's commercial hub Zhejiang Province.
Xu has been selling Longjing Tea from the West Lake in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, for eighteen years. Sales of her company amount to a few million yuan each year.
"Though we cannot ensure yet that every business owner enjoys the quick service, we have opened 'green passages' for small business since the 18th National Congress," said Lin Huan, business registration chief of downtown Shanghai.
"We must pass knowledge on about regulations and procedures before improving our services for applicants," he added.
The tea dealer said the change saved her time and money, and more importantly, made her confident about the future.
On Saturday, China's top legislature approved a motion to cancel the minimum registered capital requirement and adoption of a system of business registration with, theoretically, any amount of money.
In some gigantic multi-sectoral programs, government services are improving despite the complexity. The ambitious water diversion project - taking water from the wet south to dry areas in the north - is not immense in the construction itself, but has tested the government's management ability in matters such as family resettlement.
By inviting local people to oversee the building of houses, the government of Xiangyang City of the central Hubei Province has made the resettlement work a smooth one, said Yang Zhiyong, head of the city's immigration bureau.
A new home is much better than an old, rundown hut, said Zhang Yonglong, who monitored the construction, adding relocation has brought his family better living conditions than even some urbanites dream of.
The Chinese government has been striving to be more service-oriented since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. The third plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee in November further highlighted the need to speed up transformation of government functions in its decision statement.
The decision, a detailed reform plan for coming years, emphasized reform to the administrative system in a down-to-earth manner to become more law-based and service-oriented through innovative management.
This year, amid the mass line campaign, a thorough clean-up of the party to rid it of "formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance", some typical examples have been exposed with officials involved punished.
The statements of recent key central conferences indicate that a better role of the government will be essential to the sustained, sound and steady progress of China.
The statement of this year's central economic work conference said the government will continue to adjust the structure of expenditure, spend money more wisely, improve structural tax cuts and increase the number of experiments for replacing turnover tax with a value-added tax, which means fiscal policy transforming government and reducing administrative procedure.
Urbanization cannot be realized without planning and organization. An urbanization conference in mid-December promised to fully remove hukou restrictions in towns and small cities, gradually ease restrictions in medium cities, and set reasonable conditions for settling in big cities. This requires great government effort in citizenization of farmers such as vocational training for new citizens and compulsory education for their children.
The rural work conference which ended last week made it clear that the transformation of government functions must be accelerated and innovation in agriculture-related administrative management must be vigorously promoted.
China has to improve government services to meet the challenges of the next twenty years, and reduce administrative intervention in economic activities to establish the decisive role of the market in resource allocation by 2020, according to Ken Lieberthal, a senior fellow with the U.S. Brookings Institution and a leading China expert
It is down to the changes of government functions to deepen reform, and to realize the Chinese Dream, he said.
In an effort to make it easier for business people like Xu Liping to set up firms, the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ) canceled the minimum registered capital requirement in advance of the rest of the country.
"I plan to sell my tea abroad, and set up a new branch in the FTZ," said Xu.
It took eight years for private businesses to grow from ten thousand to twenty thousand in Shanghai's downtown area, and it is expected to take only two to three years for another ten thousand's to open if the government's push to streamline service continues, according to Lin Huan.