China Leadership Monitor

SASAC and Rising Corporate Power in China

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Since the middle of 2007, a number of episodes have thrown light on the relationship between SASAC (the State Asset Supervision and Administration Commission) and the large and increasingly wealthy and powerful state-owned organizations that SASAC is entrusted to manage and “own.” The most important news has been the provisional implementation of SASAC’s long-standing program to harvest dividends from state-owned corporations. SASAC can claim some success in finally achieving a long-sought goal. However, the limited nature of the achievement also highlights the difficulty SASAC has in extending its authority and its reform agenda. A failed effort by China Eastern Airlines to bring in Singapore Airlines as a strategic investor provides a similar lesson. These episodes highlight the rising influence of powerful corporate groupings in China.