China will beef up policy support to address the pressing concerns facing State-owned enterprises and sharpen their competitive edge, which experts said will help SOEs to play a better role in facilitating the country's economic recovery and high-quality development.
Zhang Yuzhuo, chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council, said that dedicated efforts will be made to push ahead with SOE reforms so as to help them strengthen technological innovation and secure stable growth. Zhang made the comments while chairing the third session of a roundtable discussion on economic operations of SOEs on Tuesday.
The roundtable came on the heels of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee's meeting held on Monday, which also stressed the imperative of shoring up the core competitiveness of SOEs.
Representatives from eight SOEs involved in such sectors as energy, steel, transportation, chemicals, building materials and equipment manufacturing attended the session, where they elaborated on their operational status and current challenges, and put forward suggestions on enhancing policy support and promoting entrepreneurship, according to SASAC.
Problems and suggestions raised by SOEs will be carefully studied, Zhang said, adding that better planning and coordination will help resolve their difficulties and foster new growth drivers.
Efforts will be made to expand returns on State-owned capital and enhance the strength, quality and size of SOEs, with improving their core competitiveness and functions being a priority. Solid steps will be taken to build a more resilient industrial chain and promote more technological advances in key areas, he added.
SOE reforms will be pushed forward on an ongoing basis to keep pace with world-class, industry-leading enterprises, Zhang said.
Zhang Jun, director of the China Center for Economic Studies of Fudan University, said that SOEs serve as an important anchor of the country's stable economic growth, and they play a vital role in expanding effective investment.
The latest data from SASAC show that total fixed-asset investment, excluding real estate, by centrally administered SOEs rose 18.6 percent year-on-year to 1.4 trillion yuan ($195.7 billion) in the first half.
In particular, over a quarter of all investment was channeled to strategic emerging industries, including next-generation mobile communications, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and new materials, SASAC said.
Efforts by SOEs to expand effective investment and advance construction of major projects are conducive to creating more jobs, boosting domestic demand and spurring consumption, which will thus contribute to China's steady economic growth, Zhang said.
Meanwhile, stronger SOE presence in strategic emerging industries will help them bolster innovation capabilities and achieve more breakthroughs in key and core technologies, in a bid to effectively safeguard the stability of industrial and supply chains as well as national industrial security, he added.
Song Xiangqing, vice-dean of the School of Government at Beijing Normal University, said that cultivation of strategic emerging industries is crucial for the country to shift from old drivers of growth to new ones, and SOEs should shoulder greater responsibility as necessary strategies require long development cycles and large capital inputs.
It will help China to move up the global value chain with greater innovation-based competitiveness, which will promote sound and sustainable development over the long run, Song said.
In another development, the National Development and Reform Commission, on top of allocating 7.8-billion-yuan central government investment by end-June, earmarked an additional 3.3 billion yuan to support programs that provide work for people in need as a form of relief.
The combined investment has been channeled to 22 provincial-level regions in central and western China in support of 559 work-relief programs, most of which were implemented by SOEs, helping nearly 100,000 (financially strapped) people land jobs, according to the NDRC.