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China urges state firms to help meet government policies, steer economy

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China's state assets regulator has called on companies under its control to meet social, political and economic responsibilities this year, it said on Wednesday after a meeting of top state enterprise leaders.

[BEIJING] China's state assets regulator has called on companies under its control to meet social, political and economic responsibilities this year, it said on Wednesday after a meeting of top state enterprise leaders.

China launched a new round of reforms in 2015 aimed at turning its debt-ridden state sector into a series of "world-class enterprises". It promised to merge and slim down bloated firms, create modern management structures and give the market a bigger role in decision making.

At the same time, it has also emphasised the important political role played by its 96 central government-owned companies, and is driving through a "Party building" programme aimed at aligning the firms with the policies and strategies of the central government.

In a summary of an annual meeting of company leaders, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) said it would stick with "market-oriented reforms" and introduce more non-state ownership.

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But state-owned enterprises (SOEs) must also "firmly grasp the important strategic opportunities in China's development" and help push forward the country's economic and political agenda for the year.

While the companies will be called on to contribute to the steady growth of the economy, they will also be under further pressure to control debt, maintain stability and protect the environment, it said.

As the government continues to push its "Party-building" programme among SOEs this year, firms will remain a part of the country's ongoing battle against corruption and bureaucratic thinking, the regulator added.

China's 96 SASAC-run firms, which cover a range of key sectors from energy and mining to transportation and telecommunications, made profits of 1.7 trillion yuan (S$340.3 billion)in 2018, up 16.7 percent compared to a year earlier, the statement said.

REUTERS