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Grassroot voices
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The fact that migrant workers have been elected deputies to the local people's congresses nationwide signifies reform to include more voices from the grassroots, and effective supervision of the work of governments at all levels.

The connection between farmers-turned-workers and deputies to the people's congresses would have been unimaginable several years ago although there were calls to give due regard to the hardship and unfair treatment of this special group of people.

These calls have helped improve the living and working conditions of these workers. But the fact that 200 million migrant workers have become such an important work force for both urbanization progress and the building of China into a modernized country has made it urgent that they, also as a political force and social group, need to have their deputies in the legislative bodies at various levels to express their concerns and rights, as well participate in State affairs.

This is also necessitated by the nature of the people's congress - the country's basic democratic system. How the people's congresses at various levels function as legislative bodies to regulate laws and as watchdogs to supervise the work of governments demonstrates how democracy is exercised in this country.

The election of farmers-turned-workers as deputies therefore marks progress in the continuous reform of this system toward the goal of turning itself into an organ that can earnestly regulate laws and supervise the use of power by governments on behalf of the general public.

The reduction of the proportion of government officials as deputies in some localities is also a case in point. In Shanghai's new municipal people's congress, the number of government official deputies has been reduced by 49, and the places given to deputies from workers and farmers. Other localities have also reduced the number of government officials as candidates for deputies.

The number of government officials used to be as high as 70 or even 80 percent among congress deputies. As a result, the chances were quite limited that the will of the general public could be voiced at the congresses, and their function as watchdogs of the work of governments was compromised.

The increase in deputies from the grassroots level, the election of deputies from migrant workers in particular, and reduction in the number of deputies from government officials points to the right direction of reform of the legislative bodies and the future of this nation at large.

(China Daily January 15, 2008)

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