With apology, China's Premier wins praise as rock of responsibility

08:18, October 15, 2009      

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It was a small mistake that many people would never have noticed, but Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao felt the need to atone with a public apology.

In a Xinhua story featuring his comments after inspecting lessons at a middle school, Wen, who has a postgraduate degree in geological structure, mixed up his rock types.

Wen was quoted as saying, "Teachers should give positive feedback to students' answers even if they are not relevant to the lesson -- instead of just ignoring them and focusing on the class agenda."

In one lesson, the teacher had raised a discussion on "what makes a perfect classroom." However, a student wandered off topic and said, "I like rocks and want to study rocks in the future."

Wen suggested the teacher should have responded by asking how many kinds of rocks the boy knew and inspired his passion by talking about the types of rocks: "sedimentary, magmatic and volcanic."

However, the third type should have been metamorphic rocks and Wen spotted the error in the story released by Xinhua on Sunday.

In a letter written Monday evening to Xinhua's editor-in-chief office, Wen said: "The three main types of rocks should be sedimentary rocks, magmatic rocks (also called igneous rocks) and metamorphic rocks. Please correct my mistake and send my apology to all readers."

Wen's move prompted a mass of comments on the Internet and most expressed respect for the 67-year-old premier's attention to detail and honesty.

"Our premier's serious attitude towards science set an example for scholars; his sense of responsibility set an example for officials; his sincerity set an example for all of us," said a comment by "tjljzh" on Sohu.com.

"Everybody makes mistakes. My respect for our premier is stronger after this," said Professor Wang Wei, of the National School of Administration.

"It shows Chinese public figures are paying more attention to communication with the media, which is really a good thing for society. It also reflects how social and government organizations are responding quickly to the public," Professor Zhang Yiwu, of Peking University, told Xinhua.

"Facing problems with an honest attitude will only help solve them. What Premier Wen did should inspire both government officials and ordinary people," Zhang said.

Wen has gained a reputation as a man of the people over the years.

Source: Xinhua
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