Liaison offices in Beijing face overhaul
By Xiao Xing (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-09-05 06:22

The central government is set to overhaul nearly 6,000 Beijing liaison offices of local governments and major State-owned enterprises amid mounting criticism over their alleged involvement in corruption.

The Government Offices Administration of the State Council, China's cabinet, is drafting a detailed plan on their restructuring which may be unveiled in the fourth quarter of this year, the weekly Economic Observer reported yesterday.

The Ministry of Supervision and the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China Central Committee are also working to better regulate the offices, of which about 50 represent the provinces, major cities and top State-owned enterprises; around 520, cities; and roughly 5,000, counties.

The offices are facing "the biggest survival crisis in half a century and some of them will probably be shut down," the report said.

The overhaul is believed to be prompted by observations made by Li Jinhua, the country's top auditor, who reportedly accused the offices of breeding corruption.

Some of the agencies are entrusted by local governments to cozy up to senior officials in central government ministries for financial benefits, Li said at the end of last year.

Over the past few years, a number of chiefs or deputy chiefs of local government offices in Beijing have been charged with facilitating corrupt deals between local and central government officials.

Earlier this year, Wu Guanzheng, secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, ordered that supervision of regional government offices in Beijing be one of the commission's major tasks in 2006.

There were 186 offices representing cities in 1991 but the figure swelled to 426 in 2002. The first local government office in Beijing was set up in 1949 by the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The number of agencies based in Beijing will top 10,000 if those set up by various associations, universities and enterprises are included.

A website,, has been co-funded by some local government agencies in Beijing to promote their presence.

According to a Xinhua report yesterday, the local government offices spend more than 20 billion yuan (US$2.5 billion) annually to build and nurture connections with central government departments.

Although the Beijing municipal government once stopped the registration of local government offices in the city, it lifted the ban in 2003 for fear of losing the huge economic benefits generated by the agencies, the Economic Observer report said.

Official figures suggest that the assets of the local government offices reached 10 billion yuan (US$1.26 billion) in 2001 and their expenditure on property and daily business operations stood at 430 million yuan (US$54 million) in 2002.

(China Daily 09/05/2006 page1)