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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 08:20, March 15, 2006
Chinese premier gives answers to pressing questions
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Once again Premier Wen Jiabao concluded the session of the National People's Congress with a press conference, reinforcing his image as a reasonable and down-to-earth leader.

In addition to his and the current leadership's acclaimed populist concerns, Premier Wen conveyed additional confidence yesterday when addressing the on-occasion aggressive inquiries, which ranged from rural poverty to overseas accusations of Internet regulation.

His answers left the impression that the leadership is well aware of the problems that the country is facing, and is trying to deal with them.

What is more, Wen revealed a fact that most domestic media had neglected in appraising implementation of the country's 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05). That is our failure in curbing environmental protection.

He urged four "must-dos," namely reducing energy and resource consumption and pollutant release, eliminating polluting and wasteful industries via stricter market access, effective pollution treatment, and more aggressive law enforcement.

We hope that more people, particularly local development planners, share his anxiety and that his proposals are carried out to the letter.

Premier Wen showed us he is determined to broaden consensus. His and the leadership's appreciation of "people power," and their signature populism, will help in this regard.

The Chinese premier surprised his audience on the same occasion last year when he told the press he had read an official website where people had raised hundreds of questions for him prior to the press conference.

This time, several major Internet portals at home joined forces to solicit questions for the premier. Altogether, he and his cabinet received hundreds of thousands of questions and suggestions from enthusiastic netizens, Wen disclosed yesterday.

In saying that a people's government should subject itself to public scrutiny and listen to the public's voice, including soliciting their opinions via the Internet, Premier Wen acknowledged that a government cannot be slack when it is under the people's watchful eyes.

Such an invitation for public involvement inspires hope for benign interaction between the country's leaders and the general public.

For some other people, however, what was more interesting about Premier Wen's press conference was the part before he began taking questions.

Given what he said was intended for the "majority" who were not present at the press conference, Wen took the initiative to address recent concerns over the leadership's attitude towards reform.

Beginning last year, there have been heated debates in China over the assessment of reform over the past decades. The debate boils down to the question of whether or not we should continue to press ahead with reform.

The discord has attracted so much attention that a law professor's open expression of disapproval of the widely expected draft law on property rights was cited as a signal that reform may have hit a tough ideological snag.

"Though there are difficulties on our way ahead, we must not stop. There is no way out if we move backwards," Wen said.

This was a badly needed response to the worries and confusions regarding the direction of the country's future progress. Confusing signals on such a matter of principle were not just threatening to sap investor confidence. They were exerting a damaging impact on society's overall sense of direction.

That is why we believe this part of Premier Wen's press conference was the most important.

Source: China Daily

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