Ren Yuqi, an entrepreneur from Central China's Hunan Province, has "paid" to gain a persuasive say at the annual March meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC).
The lawmaker talked his way to Beijing, the seat of NPC, along a route where he conducted firsthand investigations into 50 impoverished rural townships in Hunan, Guangdong and Fujian provinces between mid-December and end of last month.
The trip took him two and a half months and 100,000 yuan (US$12,048). As a result, Ren and his team visited 300 farming households and got first-hand information about how farmers were fared and what they aspired to do.
"People elected me as an NPC deputy last year, and now that what happen in cities is easy to understand, I wanted to go to the remote countryside to see how government's rural policies work," Ren, a resident in Hunan's Xiangtan City, said Tuesday.
National legislators are statutorily entitled to supervise government work and put forth motions. They are also obliged to listen to and forward the people's complaints and opinions to central authorities.
Ren, a successful real estate developer, reserved a special budget for his plan of seeing rural areas with his own eyes.
To prepare for the second session of the 10th NPC this month, Ren and his 10-person team began their look into rural regions of 14 prefectures and cities in Hunan, and 20 townships in Guangdong and Fujian in December.
Based on their fact-finding, Ren was able to come up with hundreds of pages of documents illustrated by nearly 200 pictures depicting debt-laden township governments, schools with dangerous classrooms and arable land encroached on by non-farming projects.
Accordingly, the lawmaker put forward a dozen motions, urging the government to heed the plight of impoverished farmers unable to support their children's schooling and to waive the apparently unreasonable fees that are draining rural residents' wallets.
On Sunday, Ren made a presentation about actual rural situations based on his investigations, especially those concerning grassroots government operations and farmers incomes. It was at a panel discussion attended by Vice-President Zeng Qinghong at the Great Hall of the People.
"In addition to submitting motions to the NPC, I gave some of my findings and comments -- including the pictures -- to the vice-president after the discussion," Ren said. "I'll wait to see if my work will bring some changes to farmers.
"As a saying goes, 'no investigation, no right to speak.' I will work to the last minute in my tenure as an NPC deputy to speak for the people based on investigations," he said.
(China Daily March 10, 2004)