Three planks of government policy essential to maintaining stability were laid out by Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday - closing income gaps, ensuring rural residents enjoy equal benefits and opportunities, and eradicating corruption.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) holds an online chat with Internet users at two state news portals in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 27, 2011. The two portals, namely www.gov.cn of the central government and www.xinhuanet.com of the Xinhua News Agency, jointly interviewed Premier Wen on Sunday with questions raised by netizens. [Pang Xinglei/Xinhua]
During his web chat with the public, he said: "We will ensure incomes keep pace with economic growth and salaries keep pace with increased productivity." He said the government would increase salaries for low-income groups and their minimum living allowances, contain salaries in industries with higher incomes; and crack down on illegal incomes while regulating incomes deemed excessive.
"We will roll out measures in all these aspects, including tax policies, to make China a country of equality and justice where each citizen lives within the security net," said Wen. He also pledged to raise pensions for retirees whose incomes lagged behind those of workers in government departments and institutions.
The government had increased pensions by up to 10 percent a year for such business retirees over the past seven years, but their incomes were still relatively low, Wen said.
"I always say we should not only make the cake of social wealth as big as possible, but also distribute the cake in a fair way and let everyone enjoy the fruits of reform and opening up," he said.
Retirees from government departments and institutions have long enjoyed better treatment than those retiring from businesses, giving rise to discontent among the latter.
The government would continue to raise incomes and pensions for retired company employees and order enterprises that practiced the yearly-salary mechanism to set aside a certain portion as income for retirees.
Wen said the government would also issue more policies to end discrimination against rural people in employment, education, medical services and other social benefits.
Efforts would be made to target practical problems facing farmers who worked in cities, he said. "The government is mulling more measures to reform the household registration system, or hukou, in an active and steady manner," he said.
"Most importantly, farmers-turned-workers and their children should never be discriminated against in jobs, compulsory education and training," Wen said. China has 240 million farmers working in cities.
In response to questions on access to schools for migrant workers' children, Wen said the government would build more high-quality rural schools and take measures to make the nine-year compulsory education in cities more accessible to them.
The premier also pledged to intensify efforts to protect and help street children. "The causes for street children are complicated, but whatever the situation, we cannot leave our children to live without shelter," he said.
He had instructed the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Civil Affairs to intensify rescue efforts. Wen also said that another primary task this year would be the investigation and prosecution of officials for abuse of authority, dereliction of duty and involvement in corruption. The Communist Party of China and the government would show no leniency to corrupt officials, he said.
The premier acknowledged that some government and leading officials were too powerful, and their power too concentrated and unchecked.