Streamlining administration and delegating power is not mere political rhetoric in China. In the northern city of Baotou, they are a way of salvaging the economy from decay.
Baotou, in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, was built on coal. Since coal prices went into decline in 2012, the city has struggled.
Taking the central government at its word, Baotou has reduced its administrative procedures by 84 percent, the most of any city.
"Heavy government control blocked market access and hurt entrepreneurship," said Bao Gang, mayor of Baotou.
Red tape is almost a way of life in China. In order to get a business up and running, an entrepreneur previously had to visit at least three government offices to get essential certificates.
In Baotou, it has become easier to get into commerce. A real estate project in Baotou once took 183 days to get 11 approvals from planners, quality inspectors, the environmental bureau and others. Now it takes only 42 days. One real estate developer in Baotou reckons the new efficiency has saved his company at least one million dollars.
Qian Lehua of Baotou Second Hospital used to make five trips to the same health department to register new employees every year. Now everything is done in Baotou administrative affairs center.
In 2014, 6,579 companies were established in Baotou, up 65.3 percent year on year. Registered capital of these companies totaled 20 billion yuan, up 116 percent. The new companies brought 54,600 new jobs, and the city's GDP grew 8.5 percent last year.
In the first six months this year, 3,785 new companies were set up, roughly one thousand more than in the same period last year.
"If one never washes dinnerware, it never has a chance to break," Bao countered nay-sayers. "Many people fear that taking their hands off the stamps will cause problems, but a year has passed and things have not gotten any worse, only better," said Bao.