Chinese State Councilor Ma Kai has urged officials to carefully handle public complaints in the face of new challenges brought about by the financial crisis.
"We should place great importance on new social problems amid the international financial crisis," said Ma in a statement Friday after a two-day meeting of public complaints departments' heads ended Thursday.
China's central and local governments all have a "letters and calls" department where officials receive members of the public and letters with requests to the governments.
They were asked to smooth communications with the public through letters and visits and carefully handle legal requests, Ma said.
They should work with other departments to ensure proper implementation of the policies that aim to improve living standards, he said.
They are also asked to advise local governments on what issues people complain about most and how to resolve them.
Some experts have warned of a possible increase in social conflicts, resulting from a grim employment situation this year.
Sociologists from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) warned last month that social conflicts could intensify as unemployment rises.
Besides unemployed people in urban areas, thousands of migrant workers have returned to their rural hometowns after the factories where they worked closed or cut staff, but no official figures are available.
"Some have lost farmland. Now they have lost jobs. They could be desperate," said Professor Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociologist from the Renmin University, " We should not underestimate the challenges brought by high unemployment."