Getting close to the people

Updated: 2013-12-30 07:15

(China Daily)

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President Xi Jinping surprised many by visiting a local Beijing eatery Saturday noon, where he lined up and paid for his own meal of pork buns, fried liver and vegetables. Photos and videos of his visit soon caused a stir on the Internet, with many micro blog users expressing their surprise and approval of Xi's pragmatic style of staying in touch with people.

Xi's impromptu visit, which was not reported in advance by mainstream media, stuck a chord with the general public, and other leaders should also show they have the common touch, says an opinion article in Beijing Times.

It is very unusual for senior Chinese officials to have such close interaction with ordinary people. But Xi's visit shows leaders should seek an opportunity to mix with people and experience their lives.

This could help change the traditional image of senior leaders being shrouded in mystery and show their determination to cut down on waste and extravagance, often associated with official banquets, which Xi has continually promoted since he took office.

Many officials, once promoted to higher posts, give up their ordinary way of living for a more comfortable or even luxurious life, and to the public eye it seems many cannot live without fine cuisine, brand-name clothes, limousines and big houses. They grow detached from ordinary people, and gradually start to forget what an ordinary life is like, and give little or no thought to people's everyday worries and difficulties.

Xi's visit to the restaurant sets an example for leaders at all levels. It reminds them a leader is an ordinary person no matter how high his official position is.

Officials should stop being arrogant and remove the invisible wall between them and the people. To change their work style, they need to remind themselves that they come from the people, and they should work for the people. They should find the time to meet the people to find out how much pork buns cost and what people have to say about food safety.

Of course, when an official bears in mind people's concerns and needs, he doesn't have to eat at such restaurants each and every day.

(China Daily 12/30/2013 page8)