by Xinhua writers Li Laifang and Cheng Yunjie
BEIJING, June 30 (Xinhua) -- With the recent removal of interest rate ceilings for foreign currency deposits in Shanghai banks, the first reform piloted in the Shanghai free trade zone has been expanded outside the zone.
The relaxation, targeting foreign currency deposits of less than three million U.S. dollars, marks an important step forward for the marketization of foreign currency interest rates in the country.
The China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone (Shanghai FTZ) was inaugurated last September under China's new leadership, who took the helm in November 2012. The "test field" for the country's new reform has adopted new policies and explored new ways in opening up.
The Shanghai FTZ is far from the only initiative of its kind in China right now. In the first half of this year, both the central and local governments have initiated "deepwater-area" reforms in various sectors.
Their progress has smashed overseas suspicion that China's new reforms might not be implemented as promised.
November's landmark third plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee drew a blueprint for deepening reforms. It involves economic, political, cultural, social and environmental systems as well as Party building in some 330 important reform items.
Vivid descriptions such as "deepwater area" and "gnawing at hard bones" indicate the unprecedented heavy tasks of reforms, observers say.
President Xi Jinping has said that reform and opening up is the key to realizing the dream of national rejuvenation.
Xi has presided over three meetings of the central leading group for overall reform this year, stressing time and again the importance and urgency of "implementation."
In the third meeting of the group in early June, he said reform should be better targeted at concrete issues, prominent problems and conflicts. "The success of reform will be decided by whether our goal is reached and the success of our blueprint will be in its implementation," according to the president.
The Chinese leadership has a profound understanding of domestic and global economies and the reforms will bring far-reaching benefit to China and the world, said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
An administrative overhaul is among the most outstanding agendas of the reforms. In March, the State Council, or China's Cabinet, vowed to abolish or delegate another 200 administrative approvals to governments at lower levels, following the 416 last year, and published a list of 1,235 administrative approval items under 60 central government departments.
The government's "self-reform" is also under way at provincial or municipal levels. The developed, eastern province of Zhejiang last week published a list of administration items, cutting them down from 12,300 to about 4,200 items. Other provinces or municipalities, including Guangdong, Tianjin, Shanghai and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, have published similar lists.
"In terms of administration reforms, strong efforts have been made at the central level and remarkable progress has also been achieved at the local level," said Xu Yaotong, professor of political science with the Chinese Academy of Governance.
Some moves have "touched sore spots and vitals, boosted market vitality and released reform bonus," said the academic.
Indeed, the reforms have pushed the development of small enterprises. From March to May, the country's registered new market entities reached 3.2 million, an increase of 25.8 percent year on year, with the total registered capital doubling to hit 5.32 trillion yuan, show statistics from the National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner.