Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

China Grants Free-Market Autonomy to Guangdong

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

China Grants Free-Market Autonomy to Guangdong

Article excerpt

IN a concrete victory for China's reformers, the central government has agreed to relinquish key economic controls over the vibrant, market-driven province of Guangdong, top provincial officials say.

Beijing's decision to grant Guangdong greater economic autonomy is one of the first signs that senior leader Deng Xiaoping's two-month-old public campaign to accelerate capitalistic reforms is bearing tangible results. It indicates that Mr. Deng is reversing the efforts of his conservative opponents since August 1988 to recentralize China's booming economy.

Under a set of 10 new "preferential policies," Guangdong will gain greater leeway to authorize large investment projects such as power plants, to set wage bills, and to issue loans, stocks, and bonds, as well as other powers, provincial officials revealed.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, originally approved the policies for Guangdong in February 1988, but conservatives blocked their implementation in the course of a sweeping economic retrenchment launched that September, the officials say.

"Now that the rectification has ended, we will regain these 10 measures and perhaps some of them will be expanded," says Lei Yu, executive vice mayor of Guangzhou, Guangdong's capital.

"If {Beijing} can give us a bigger front line, I am confident that our economy will perform better," says Mr. Lei, one of the most energetic reformers in China's fastest-growing province.

The State Council will dispatch a leading official to the southern province in mid-April to discuss the details of delegating the as yet unpublicized powers, says Zeng Guangcan, vice director of the Guangdong Province Commission on Systems Reform.

The decision to delegate broader powers to Guangdong illustrates how Deng and reformist leaders in China's prospering coastal areas are successfully allying against Marxist ideologues and conservative central planners, Chinese officials say.

For Deng, Guangdong and other coastal provinces offer vivid proof of the success of his market-oriented policies since 1979. …

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