Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, January 21, 2003

Beijing's New Mayor a Man of the People

Though noted for his persistent low-key attitude and calmness, Meng Xuenong, Beijing's newly-elected mayor still spoke his mind in an individual passionate way to reporters in a live telecast Sunday.


Though noted for his persistent low-key attitude and calmness, Meng Xuenong, Beijing's newly-elected mayor still spoke his mind in an individual passionate wayto reporters in a live telecast Sunday.

While recalling the election in the just-closed first meeting of the 10th people's congress of Beijing, Meng held that the masses of people have the most direct but fairest evaluation of government officials. "Everybody is born with a sense of justice,"Meng said.

A native of Penglai city in east China's Shandong province, Meng Xuenong has won wide public praise for his modesty, sober-mindedness and mildness. Instead of avoiding mentioning his "humble" beginnings, the worker-turned mayor said he felt very grateful for his grass-roots past.

When asked what problems Beijing residents mostly wanted the government to help resolve, Meng Xuenong listed, among other issues, housing, employment, medical care, sanitary services, social security.

Meng is strongly in favor of rebuilding old houses, a policy which aims to improve the city's overall housing level. He still keeps in touch with his neighbors from the days when they once lived in the same Hutong or local alley, and is quite familiar with their housing situation in those old alleys.

"On one hand, they are ready to leave their current shabby, humble buildings with no heating systems or efficient piped water and; on the other hand, they are short of money to purchase new, good houses," Meng said.

As well as renovating and upgrading old houses, Beijing has built 4.09 million square meters of commercial housing for low-income families in the last three years, equaling the total of thepast decade.

"Thanks to these measures, many residents who formerly lived inan area of five to eight square meters have moved into new, spacious homes of over 20 square meters," Meng said with a broad smile.

The municipal government would keep on building more houses forlow-income families, he said. Meanwhile, he added, it will also encourage the second-hand housing market and provide more low-renthouses for the most needy families.

Meng cares about the lives of people in the Siheyuan, or Beijing's traditional resident compounds with houses built around a rectangular courtyard, and is also one of the leaders most determined to protect the city's ancient character and traditional features.

In his policy speech after assuming office, Meng said, "I feel it both a pride and a lofty mission to contribute to the construction of this great ancient city."

Currently, Beijing municipality has established 40 historical and cultural reserves. More than 400 Siheyuan compounds in old districts are also under protection. And approximately 330 millionyuan (40 million US dollars) have been spent and used for preserving cultural relics in the past three years.

Meng expressed his satisfaction with the achievements made in safeguarding historic city sites, highlighting the successful protection of the Lianhuachi lake ruins and ramparts dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

While referring to his political career, Meng spoke particularly about the Communist Youth League of China (CYLC).

He cited his experience as secretary of the CYLC Committee at the Beijing No. 2 Motor Vehicle Plant and the Beijing Automobile Industry Corporation as well as deputy secretary of the CYLC Beijing Municipal Committee a solid foundation for his future work.

The CYLC service prompted him to keep closely in touch with young people and maintain an open mind since youth were less conservative, Meng added.

In his opinion, Hu Jintao, now the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has set a fine example for all CYLC cadres to follow.

"Hu was once a principal leader of the CYLC 20 years ago. His justice and honesty at work left a deep impression on me and I and other government officials can still learn from him," Meng said.

Looking ahead to the upcoming Spring Festival, the new mayor isconcerned about the 60,000 urban needy residents whose monthly income is below the city's breadline. He intends to visit and givehis regards to those families on the eve of China's traditional new year.

Source: Xinhua

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