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Chinese premier invites grassroots suggestions for gov't work
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08:13, February 16, 2009

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Thirteen grassroots representatives - some of them farmers, pig-raisers, migrant workers, college graduates, doctors and primary school teachers - were invited to the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in downtown Beijing last week by the premier to voice their opinions on government work.

Sitting beside an oval table, the 13 people, excited and nervous, all experienced their first face-to-face talk with Premier Wen Jiabao.

"Make yourself at home," Wen said, "as you should be hosts here."

He said he wanted to listen to more complaints and suggestions instead of compliments.

Qin Yinglin, a pig-raiser in central Henan Province suggested more efforts should be made to ensure compulsory immunization and promote better varieties.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao presides over a forum to get suggestions to improve the government work report from leaders of non-communist parties, All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and public figures without party affiliation, in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 9, 2009.

The Henan Agricultural University graduate raised more than 100,000 breeding pigs annually and more than 500,000 lean meat pigs. Sixteen years ago, he only raised 22 pigs. He had been dubbed by the premier "college graduate 'hogman'".

Qin attributed his success to the sound supportive policies. "This year I have got more than 4 million yuan (588,000 U.S. dollars) in sow subsidies. I hope the supportive policies will be stable."

Wen assured him that the policies would be "not only stable but need to be perfect".

"How about pig prices recently?" Wen asked.

"Down a little bit and the prices always fluctuate. But we hope the premier's mood would not follow the prices," Qin replied, raising a laugh in the room.


Struck by international financial woes, many migrant workers lost jobs and returned to their rural hometowns. The 23-year-old Gu Jiawei, who formerly worked at an electric appliance factory in Ningbo, eastern Zhejiang Province, was currently receiving driving training in his Sichuan hometown, and planned to look for jobs again after he got a driving license.

"Are there many migrant workers who have lost jobs in your village?" the premier asked.

"About half of the village's total migrant workers," Gu replied. He hoped the country could encourage more eastern enterprises to invest in West China so that he and fellow villagers could have more employment opportunities.

Wen said the central government invests about 1 trillion yuan in post-quake construction, including providing job opportunities.

Gu said he hoped for a unified measure that ensures migrant workers' insurance account transfer as many migrant workers could not continue their insurance program when they shift jobs.

"I have bought insurance in Zhejiang but could not transfer my account to my hometown," he said. Gu also voiced his hope for the establishment of a comprehensive service center for migrant workers that could save them time to apply for different certificates or licenses. Currently it would take days to obtain these certificates as they have to visit many bureaux located in different places.

Gu also hoped for the establishment of a unified training center for migrant workers as there are currently many substandard ones.

Wen pondered for a second and said, "Your suggestions are very important. The central government has attached great importance to the migrant workers' employment. We are figuring out ways and are drafting measures for the transfer of your insurance account."

Employment of more than 6 million college graduates this year has become a serious concern. The State Council, or the Cabinet, issued a circular on Sunday, ordering all regions and relevant departments to "put college graduate employment at the top of the work agenda".

Chen Weitao, a fourth-year student of the Beijing-based Tsinghua University Law School is also one of the 13 people who were invited to Zhongnanhai to put forward suggestions on government work on Feb. 12. He said he and his classmates began to be worried about jobs as the financial crisis unfolded.

However, Chen said they were excited about the new policies helping college graduates to find jobs, including one saying scientific research programs should employ college graduates as research assistants.

"It could not only settle employment issues but boost innovation vigor as well," Chen said.

Wen said that the policy was made after he talked with students of the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in December. "The idea was put forward by the students and it is included in the policy."

Chen said more students might change their concept of employment as graduates were encouraged to join the army, work in rural areas and undertake community work after graduation.

The premier was a graduate student of the China University of Geosciences. Wen said as a geology student he had hoped to work in western China including Tibet when he graduated. "How could I conduct geology work if I was in a city?"

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