The Administrative Licensing Law of the People's Republic of China2 was passed in 2003 in order to “regulate the establishment and implementation of administrative licenses.” As a result, all licensing requirements were supposed to be brought under the ambit of administrative licensing. However, a number of non-administrative licensing requirements remained but were being slowly phased out. This process received a boost in 2014 when the State Council promulgated the “Circular of the State Council on Sorting Out Non-administrative Licensing Approval Items of All the Departments of the State Council”3 which give instructed administrative departments to eliminate non-administrative licensing requirements.4
The Decision is the final blow to non-administrative licensing requirements. It eliminates the final non-administrative licensing requirements and, therefore, eliminates the entire category. The elimination of non-administrative licensing requirements is part of the government’s process of regularizing and streamlining approval procedures. In this vein, it instructs regions and relevant departments that: (1) they should “carefully carry out the cancellation of relevant items;” (2) “strengthen in-process and follow-up supervision” to prevent a “management vacuum;” and (3) that they “shall not conduct examination or approval in any disguised way.” It also instructs them to combine “delegation” to local governments and “management” of those governments in order to increase efficiency and shift further towards government functions being based on scientific, standardized, and legalistic principles.
4 Those requirements that were genuinely needed could be converted to administrative licensing requirements (in compliance with the administrative licensing law) or internal approval items of government (if they were internal management affairs of the government).