Serving civil servants may not be employed as heads of national trade associations, according to a plan published on the Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) website on Wednesday.
The plan is intended to give more independence to trade associations, which have traditionally had close relations with the government.
Trade organizations in China have notable shortcomings. Due to their close links with the administration, some are run by retired government officials, who act more like semi-government regulators than organizers and leaders of industry. Many have been accused of failing to recruit suitable members or effectively influence major companies. Some declining industry associations are over-staffed while some booming industries do not even have an association of their own.
According to the plan, heads of national trade associations should serve a maximum term of five years with no more than two consecutive terms.
A national trade association president and secretary-general should not be the same person and not from the same member company.
In July, the State Council, China's cabinet, released a circular on government-linked trade associations, aiming to distribute power and duties and empower industries to regulate themselves.
A pilot program has been set up and will expand to cover more organizations in 2016 and 2017. All operational, financial and personnel affiliations between the government and trade associations will be severed.
"A regulation on office management systems based on the plan will come out after the pilot program is complete," said Zhan Chengfu, director of the non-governmental organization division of the MCA.