China Leadership Monitor

Strengthening the Center, and Premier Wen Jiabao

Monday, July 16, 2007

In recent months, several important initiatives to strengthen central government authority have moved ahead under Premier Wen Jiabao’s supervision. Three particularly important efforts were apparent as of mid-2007. First, a long-anticipated decision to have central government state-owned enterprises begin paying dividends to the government was finally made in May 2007. Second, a recent series of industrial policy measures has given the central government a more coherent, but also more intrusive position. Finally, the center has continued to strengthen its monitoring of local land use and planning. These initiatives together make up an important trend in policymaking that complements the general “left” or populist tilt to policymaking in the Hu-Wen administration. These initiatives also have an impact on Wen Jiabao’s political fortunes. Wen has shored up his position and made himself nearly indispensable in the run-up to the 17th Party Congress.