China introduces new performance metrics

Chinese cadres at the first legislative meeting with Xi Jinping as President are grappling with new performance metrics.

For decades, local officials were graded by their performance in promoting economic growth rates. Now, aspiring leaders are being judged on an array of issues including how they tackle the environment and improve people’s lives.

Eastern Shandong province is adding air quality to the criteria used to evaluate party cadres this year, and northwestern Gansu province is revising its assessment system to reduce the focus on economic expansion. The changes under Xi are designed to ensure social stability isn’t threatened by surging criticism of smog-choked cities that are a byproduct of China’s ascent to become the world’s second-largest economy.

“Most important is the environment,” said Hou Liang, the mayor of Zhangjiakou, a city in Hebei province regularly shrouded in haze, as he came out of one regional session of the National People’s Congress this month in Beijing. “We no longer rely on gross domestic product as in the past — yet dealing with the environment is much tougher.”

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