The progress and drawbacks of modernization, corruption and anti-corruption measures, and solution to the growing gap between rich and poor will catch the attention of the deputies of China's top legislature and advisory body next month.
Before the annual sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will open in Beijing in March, an opinion poll launched by China's major news website "www.xinhuanet.com" reflected people's concern to some extent.
With 40,000 responses in 10 days, the poll showed that 84 percent of people were concerned about "corruption", 57 percent about "unbalanced regional development and the growing income gap”, and 54 percent about "education fees".
Other hot issues included monopolies in telecommunications and railways, raising farmers' incomes, social security, the social welfare system and employment.
In a survey by the website, "If I were an NPC or CPPCC deputy...", people attached lots of "bills" and suggestions. "I would make a clear and thorough investigation into what people need most, and be a "megaphone" of the people," wrote one person with the on-line name "Floating Clouds Over the Mountain".
On the streets, the problems are more immediate.
"I think the most serious problem is traffic. It is heartening to see more people with new cars, but they should not be jamming up the roads," said newspaper seller Li Yida at Andingmen, Dongcheng District of Beijing.
He said most newspapers devoted pages to discussing traffic problems these days. "People are trying to find a way to solve them, but it is difficult as car numbers keep soaring. It's getting desperate because Beijing is preparing for the 2008 Olympic Games," said Li.
Beijing municipal traffic bureau surveys show 40 percent of Beijingers spent more than an hour traveling to work everyday because of traffic jams. Last autumn, the speed on major roads like the Second and Third Ring Roads fell to an average 7 to 12 kilometers per hour at peak times, while in the early 1990s, it was 40 kilometers per hour.
Residents in Qianmen compound in Beijing are concerned that too many historic buildings are being demolished in the rush for "modernization".
Wang Fengying, a member of the neighborhood committee, said she was expecting to move to a bright and clean apartment. The courtyard she has been living in for many years is crowded and has few amenities.
However, she worried more tall building would affect Beijing's historical features like the hutong and siheyuan. "Modern buildings are really destroying the unique character of Beijing," she said.
The Second Session of the 10th NPC will open on March 5 and the Second Session of the 10th National Committee of the CPPCC will begin on March 3.
The NPC is the top legislative body in China, while the CPPCC is a broad-based national advisory organization consisting of elites from all walks of life. The CPPCC plays a supervisory role and accepts suggestions and criticisms relating to major state affairs and policies and other important issues.
(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2004)