Chinese Premier to face massive queries in upcoming online chat

12:57, February 27, 2010      

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Tens of thousands of questions inquiring hefty housing prices, unemployment or wealth gap in China flocked into a government website as Premier Wen Jiabao readies for an online chat with netizens on Saturday afternoon.

Four hours after the news was announced at 8 a.m. (Beijing Time), more than 130,000 questions have been put forward in the central government's website (www.gov.cn).

The portal and www.xinhuanet.com of the Xinhua News Agency will jointly interview Premier Wen at 3 p.m. with chosen questions raised by netizens.

"I earn only 2,000 yuan (294 U.S. dollars) a month, half of which is paid for apartment rent. I find that buying my own apartment is a luxury now due to high housing price. Can you help to solve the problem?" asked a netizen named "Manman".

"How do house demolition projects reflect the people-oriented principle of the government work?" another netizen named "Chinese" asked, referring to cases of forced demolition during land development, some of which have aroused public anger.

Many queries were about key livelihood issues such as widening wealth gap, job-seeking problems, education, medicare and corruption.

Some also cared about economic development, energy security and environmental pollution in the country, which has the largest number of Internet users in the world.

The country reported 384 million Internet users, or about one third of the country's 1.3 billion population, by the end of 2009, up by 28.9 percent from a year ago, according to a January report of the China Internet Network Information Center.

Wen jumped in his first ever online chat on Feb. 28, 2009 at the two sites, facing questions from nearly 300,000 netizens and mobile phone users ranging from unemployment, wealth gap, social justice to democracy.

The premier said he had used the Internet to listen to public opinions and suggestions.

Netizens have also proffered tens of thousands of questions and advices for Chinese leaders and the government at major Chinese news portals before the country's top legislature and advisory body open annual sessions next week.

Source: Xinhua
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