【英语中国】中国缓慢推进国企改革

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所属分类:双语中国

2013-12-31 23:51

小艾摘要: China's Communist Party wound up a key policy meeting last month, unveiling a raft of economic reforms and promising to give a 'decisive role' to market forces. It said little about plans for the ofte ...
China's Communist Party wound up a key policy meeting last month, unveiling a raft of economic reforms and promising to give a 'decisive role' to market forces.

It said little about plans for the often inefficient state sector, and that led many analysts to conclude that overhauling state companies was not a priority. Powerful vested interests appeared to have successfully defended their turf.

But in the weeks since the Communist Party's Third Plenum there have been some noises -- if not quite a drumbeat -- that suggest there might be movement towards reform of state companies.

China's government holding company -- the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission -- earlier this month said it would push forward with the transformation of state-owned enterprises into joint stock companies and encourage private sector investment in some areas. SASAC, which holds controlling shares of 113 companies, says the government would retain 100% ownership in sectors which are 'vital to national security' or 'the lifeblood of the economy.'

Authorities are planning to allow differing levels of private ownership in other industries, depending on their strategic importance. Both financial and strategic investors will be allowed to buy stakes, Huang Shuhe, SASAC's vice chairman, told a news conference this month.

Mr. Huang said that China is still reviewing which of the central government companies will be open to private sector participation and he gave no timetable for putting the reforms in place.

While some of the state companies controlled by SASAC or other state agencies are money-spinners -- like telecommunications, oil and banks -- there are numerous areas where the state is inefficient and crowding out private competitors.

The SASAC stable of companies includes some that can hardly be described as the lifeblood of the economy. Among them: China Silk Corp., China National Arts and Crafts (Group) Corp, China National Salt Industry Corp and China International Travel Service (CITS).

Meanwhile, Shanghai has signaled that it is getting ready to reorganize its government-run companies -- and that its plans are in line with directives from Beijing.

On Friday, China Information News, a newspaper supervised by the National Bureau of Statistics, ran a front-page story predicting a wave of 'mixed ownership' companies in what is now the state sector. This report expanded on a theme the paper played up earlier in the week.

This all sounded reminiscent of the early days of the nation's reform program in the 1980s, when private ownership was still regarded with suspicion. Entrepreneurs claimed they were collectively owned entities, often striking a deal with an existing collective, paying a fee in exchange for political protection in what was known as 'wearing a red hat.'

Could state firms now be getting ready to bring in private capital to fend off more substantial ownership changes? While analysts are not quite ready to declare a stampede in this direction, they do see changes ahead.

'I think there has been a signal from the top leadership that there will be a new round of state-owned enterprise reform, but the exact content of that reform is not fully worked out yet,' said Andrew Batson, research director at GaveKal Dragonomics, a Beijing-based research firm. 'So you will have some local experimentation and possibly some reorganization at the central level as they try figure out a new regime.'

The local level could be where reforms get interesting. According to some estimates, China still has more than 100,000 state-owned companies at the provincial and local levels, with many of these companies in services like transport, restaurants and hotels.

Zhou Yongliang, head of GFortune Management Consulting, which works with state firms, agrees that ambitious changes are at least on the drawing board.
Mr. Zhou maintains that there are other telltale signs of an effort to reduce the role of the state in the economy overall. A high-profile campaign against corruption is one of them, he says.

Senior executives in the powerful state oil sector -- and a former head of SASAC -- have come under investigation by anti-graft agencies. While this campaign is aimed at tackling corruption, it also may remove those who oppose overhauls in the powerful state sector.

'Sometimes economic measures alone are not enough to push reforms,' said Mr. Zhou.

Other analysts note that reforms such as interest rate liberalization - allowing the market to set rates- would push up financing costs for state companies. Such changes could make it harder for them to get cheap funds from the state-controlled banking system. This will ultimately create a somewhat more level playing field for the state and private sectors.

One of the more explicit policies that emerged from the ruling party's Third Plenum calls for state-owned companies to pay higher dividends to the government. China's leaders set a goal of returning 30% of SOE profits to public finances by 2020. Today, SOEs pay 5% to 15% of profits in dividends, and most of that is funneled back to the state sector itself.

So why did the Third Plenum document have so little to say about state sector reform? Perhaps that's a reflection of the sensitivity of the subject, suggests Mr. Zhou.

Make no mistake -- there is no chance of dismantling big state-controlled oil companies or banks. China's leaders see a need to keep successful state firms -- the national champions -- to compete with foreign multinationals. SASAC is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

'We don't know which of the reforms will actually make it into policy,' said Mr. Zhou. 'But the environment is changing.'

中国共产党上个月召开了一次重要的政策会议,公布了一系列的经济改革计划,并承诺让市场力量发挥“决定性作用”。

但是对于通常效率低下的国有企业,中共却鲜有提及相关改革计划。许多分析师因此得出结论,国企改革并不是当务之急。强大的既得利益者似乎已成功捍卫了自身的利益。

但是在三中全会闭幕后的几周里,市场一直有一些不同的声音,虽然这些声音不大,但都表明政府可能推进国企改革。

中国国务院国有资产监督管理委员会(简称:国资委)本月早些时候说,将推动国有企业转型为国有和社会资本共同控股,一些国有企业领域将鼓励民间资本进入。国资委表示,涉及到重大国家安全或国民经济命脉的国有企业,可以保持国有绝对控股。国资委目前下辖113家国有企业。

国资委副主任黄淑和在本月举行的新闻发布会上表示,按照战略重要性,其他行业的国企将允许私有资本不同程度地涉足。金融类以及战略类投资都是允许的。

黄淑和表示,政府仍在研究将向民间资本开放哪些中央政府所有的公司,但是没有给出落实改革的具体时间表。

尽管国资委或其他国家机构下辖的一些国企(例如电信、石油和银行业)盈利都很丰厚,但是仍有很多国有企业效率低下并将民营企业拒之门外。

国资委下辖公司中还有一些很难说是国民经济命脉的企业,例如中国丝绸公司(China Silk Corp.)、中国工艺美术(集团)公司(China National Arts and Crafts (Group) Corp)、中国盐业总公司(China National Salt Industry Corp)和中国国际旅行社(China International Travel Service, 简称CITS)。

与此同时,上海已经表示,将着手进行政府所有企业的改革,这符合北京方面提出的新思路。

由中国国家统计局主管的《中国信息报》上周五发表的头版文章预测,国有企业中将出现许多混合所有制企业。这篇文章详细论述了该报纸当周早些时候宣传的一个主题。

所有这些听起来都会让人联想到20世纪80年代中国刚刚改革开放的时候,那时私人所有制仍然受到怀疑。创业者会宣传他们的企业是集体所有制,通常和一家已有的集体所有制企业签订协议,支付一定的费用以换取政治上的保护,也就是所谓的“戴红帽子”。

目前国有企业是否做好了迎来所有权结构大幅变动的准备呢?虽然分析师们不太确定这方面的改革是否会快速推进,但确实认为未来会有一些变化出现。

总部位于北京的研究机构龙洲经讯(GaveKal Dragonomics)的研究负责人Andrew Batson表示,他认为中国最高领导层已发出信号,表明将有新一轮国有企业改革,但具体内容可能还未敲定,因此也许会进行一些地方改革试点或对央企实施一些重组,以确定新的所有权结构。

地方层面的改革也将较有看点。一些估算数据显示,中国在省及以下级别仍有超过100,000家国有企业,其中许多在运输、餐饮和酒店等服务领域。

北京国富创新管理咨询(GFortune Management Consulting)董事长周永亮认为,中国至少将制定较为宏大的国有企业改革蓝图。

周永亮表示,有其他一些信号表明中国将收缩国有企业在总体经济领域的作用。他说,全力打击腐败是这方面的举动之一。

石油行业的几名国企高管,以及国资委的一名前高层官员已接受反腐机构调查。虽然这场反腐战役旨在打击腐败,但可能也有助于减轻国企改革的阻力。

周永亮称,有时候仅靠经济举措不足以推动改革。

其他分析师表示,诸如利率自由化等改革将推高国有企业融资成本。这些改革可能加大国有企业从国有银行控制的银行系统获得低成本资金的难度,而这将最终为国有和私营领域创造更加公平的竞争环境。

中国共产党在十八届三中全会上提出将提高央企红利上缴比例,这是较为明确的政策之一。中国领导层制定的目标是,到2020年,这一比例由目前的5%-15%上调至30%。

那为什么此次会议的文件对于国有企业改革所谈甚少呢?周永亮认为这可能反映了这一改革的敏感性。

需要指出,中国绝不会肢解大型国有控股石油企业或银行。中国领导层认为有必要留下那些成功的国有企业,以与海外跨国公司竞争。因此,国资委这一机构短期内不会消失。

周永亮表示,还无法知道哪些改革将成为政策要求,但大环境正在发生改变。

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