China Leadership Monitor

The State Asset Commission: A Powerful New Government Body

Thursday, October 30, 2003

A powerful new government body, the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (State Asset Commission, or SAC, for short), was authorized at the 10th National People's Congress in March 2003 and set up operations in June. The SAC represents an important step forward toward clarifying and modernizing the administration of government property rights and improving the oversight of government managers. But at the same time, because the SAC is intended to gather the reins of many types of authority, there is a risk that it will become an overly powerful and interventionist body. The establishment of the SAC reveals much about the sources and exercise of political power in contemporary China. The commission's head, Li Rongrong, exemplifies the newly emerging technocratic leadership. But, the manner in which the SAC falls in the middle of contention over personnel authority also shows how old-style political considerations remain central.