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Concerns arise about credibility of public hearings in China

By Liao Wengen (People's Daily)

15:41, October 27, 2011

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

People have been familiar with the word "hearing" and occasionally heard of public hearings concerning administrative fines, prices and legislations. Following revelations that public hearings lacked participants and many of those who did come only did so because they were paid, the issue on the credibility of public hearings has attracted public attention.

Hu Litian, a retiree in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, has gotten some notoriety since it was learned in July 2011 that she has participated in 23 public hearings since 2003 and has repeatedly supported price hikes. Therefore, Internet users dubbed her the greatest"professional attendee of public hearings" and some even called her a tool of the government.

Hu is not the only "professional attendee of public hearings." Cui Yansheng, a 74-year-old man in Hangzhou, has participated in 32 public hearings over the past decade. Different from Hu, Cui objected to price hikes six times in seven public hearings that he attended.

The emergence of "professional attendees of public hearings" has caused hot public discussions and led people from all walks of life to question the credibility of public hearings. In fact, media agencies have found out that these "professional attendees"are not "tools" of the government. The reason why they were repeatedly chosen in random selection lies in that the number of applicants was very small and often failed to reach the stipulated one.

A more extreme example occurred in Dongguan, Guangdong province. The Dongguan Municipal Price Bureau issued a bulletin on May 26 announcing that the bureau would hold a public hearing over the price of the city's tap water, but no residents responded by the June 7 deadline. Some residents have made it clear that it is pointless to attend public hearings because the decision-making is cut-and-dried, and most attendees are mere rubber stamps. It would be better to do something more meaningful than to waste time on the hearings.

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wende at 2011-10-2871.125.85.*
schedule these public hearings during week ends and announce these meetings in newspapers to encourage ordinary citizens to air their grievances but make sure that there are enough attendees. No decision should be announced during these meetings. Their purpose is just to hear and weigh the public opinions. some may try to sway the opinion but that will be found. Theory of numbers.

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