Party seeks to boost ties with the public

Updated: 2013-07-19 08:08

By He Na in Beijing and Zheng Jinran in Hebei (China Daily)

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Party seeks to boost ties with the public

Yang Shaojun (left), a deputy at the National People's Congress, talks with Huang Yuansheng, a patient in Changde No 7 People's Hospital in Hunan province. Yang always tries to elicit first-hand information from the public. [Photo by Bai Yu / Xinhua]

'Look in the mirror'

Xi demanded that Party members should "look in the mirror, groom yourself, take a bath and seek remedies". More prosaically, that means members should reflect on their own practices and correct any misbehavior. The central government also dispatched 45 teams, with provincial- or ministerial-level officials as leaders, to different regions and units to supervise the campaign and ensure its success.

To push the campaign forward and set an example, Xi traveled to north China's Hebei province on July 11 and 12, visiting villages, communities, enterprises and government departments to listen to opinions and review local education campaigns.

He also visited Zhengding county, where he worked as county vice-Party secretary and then Party secretary from 1982 to 1985, to speak to residents of Tayuanzhuang village.

"Our purpose is to serve the people," he said. "With this kept in mind, one never forgets the people in the places one has worked."

Other members of the Poliburo also traveled around the country; Premier Li Keqiang toured the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in the south, while other top leaders also headed off on tours of inspection.

The campaign is the latest in an ongoing series of attempts to ensure that Party members adhere to the new policies and uphold long-standing traditions.

New rules

Zhen Xiaoying, former vice-president of the Central Institute of Socialism, welcomed the campaign, saying it's both necessary and urgently needed.

But she cautioned that campaigns of this type typically only last for a limited time, which can result in problems re-emerging when the campaign ends. Zhen said success will only be guaranteed if a mechanism to regulate members' behavior is put in place.

She was pleased by the news that the central government is collecting ideas and suggestions from the grassroots and think tanks, and is planning two new long-term Party rules to ensure political stability.

The establishment of rules and regulations in the form of laws reflects the leadership's determination to confront persistent problems, such as overweening bureaucracy, corruption and a perception that the people are alienated from the Party and its aims, she added.

Gao Xinmin, a professor at the CPC Party School, said: "The rise and fall of parties in many other countries during the past 20 years has shown that no matter how long a party has held power, if it loses the support of the people, it will inevitably fall. People don't get many chances to see the top Party leaders. That means they naturally interpret the behavior of individual Party members as being indicative of the behavior of all Party members. Every member should behave correctly, because individual cases of bad behavior can damage the image of the Party as a whole."

Gao believes that many of the mass disturbances that have occurred in recent years were the result of the four undesirable work styles, when officials made decisions that the public found unpalatable.

"Residents of Shifang, in Sichuan province, protested to the city government in July last year. They insisted that a project to process heavy metals it had introduced should be abandoned because of environmental concerns. If local officials can be made more aware of public opinion before they initiate projects, incidents of that kind are less likely to occur," she said.

"Not every issue can be resolved through economic development. The public has a strong desire to participate in the decision-making process and the supervision of national affairs via the Internet and new media."

However, she was skeptical about the current system of peer-based supervision, saying it has no real effect.

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