For first time, Chinese PM asks citizens to ‘criticize and supervise the government’

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

BEIJING - For the first time after the formation of People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has taken the extraordinary step of asking officials to address public complaints and create conditions for them to criticize and supervise the government.

Jiabao made his suggestions during a visit to the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, the central-level department dealing with petitions, in South Beijing on Monday, the China Daily reports.

He also said various administrative procedures should be made public and all government behaviour should be supervised to ensure administrative power is exercised transparently, and added that allowing face-to-face interaction between officials and petitioners will help solve public complaints fast and in a personal way.

Wen further urged officials to maintain close contact with the public to ensure government work is consistent with people’s needs.

In a rather surprising move, the Premier shook hands with each of the petitioners and enquired about their complaints and whereabouts. He told the petitioners that as long as their appeals are reasonable, they would be resolved.

“As some cases of land expropriation and house demolitions happen in rural areas, the State Council is conducting research to devise relevant laws and regulations to put an end to forced demolitions in rural areas as well. Land is the lifeline of farmers. The government must examine and approve projects using arable land strictly and in accordance with the law … and give reasonable compensation to farmers,” Wen added.

Besides hearing their individual complaints, Wen also asked their opinion about the government, and their problems about current government work if any.

This move impressed the petitioners, a expressed hope that officials would act according to the Prime Minister’s suggestions.

“I never thought I would be able to talk to the premier up close. I felt strongly his people-friendly and practical working style,” one of the petitioners said. (ANI)

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