Social stability has become a major concern in China as the nation fumbles its way in what Premier Wen Jiabao called "the most difficult year for China's economic development since the beginning of the century."
"We will improve the early-warning system for social stability to actively prevent and properly handle all types of mass incidents," Wen said in his government work report delivered at the annual session of the parliament Thursday.
Wen urged officials to give top priority to ensuring people's wellbeing and promote social harmony. "The more difficulties we face, the greater attention we should pay to ensuring people's wellbeing and promoting social harmony and stability."
The word "stability" appeared 12 times in the 44-page English version of the report.
The country should be clearly aware that it faces unprecedented difficulties and challenges, as the global financial crisis continues to spread and get worse, Wen said.
China witnessed a series of mass incidents during the past year, including protests by unemployed workers, taxi drivers strikes, and the unrest in the southwestern Weng'an County triggered by the death of a school girl.
The task of maintaining social stability became more arduous as the global financial crisis worsened and hit the real economy of China hard.
China's top political advisor Jia Qinglin on Tuesday urged his colleagues from the private sector not to lay off workers to help maintain social stability amid the global economic turmoil.
Jia, chairman of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), also urged political advisors from the ethnic minorities and religious circles to play a unique role in the drive for ethnic unity and religious harmony.
Political advisor Thubten Khedrup, who is also deputy director of the School of Tourism and Foreign Languages of Tibet University, said the stability of Tibet was deeply affected by the Lhasa riot last March.
Tibet's revenue from tourism dropped by 53 percent last year because of the riot. "It showed that in Tibet stability is the precondition for development," the Tibetan advisor said.
China's labor dispute lawsuits nearly doubled last year over 2007 after the new labor contract law took effect and because of the economic downturn, according to the Supreme People's Court.