As the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference kick off in Beijing, a Sichuan Daily survey lists official corruption, food safety, and health care reform among the nation's top 10 concerns.
A survey of Internet users jointly conducted by the Sichuan Daily and the website Sichuan Online (www.scol.com.cn) asked people to choose the issues that most concerned them from a list of 32 topics. The following are netizens' top 10 picks.
Corruption and clean government
People are concerned with how the 4 trillion yuan stimulus package will be distributed. A netizen named Sarma said: "Most of the fund will be used in infrastructure construction. We call on NPC deputies and CPPCC members to weed out parasites from the process of bidding and construction."
Supervision of food and medicines
The recently passed Food Safety Law is of great concern to Chinese people. A netizen named Ultraviolet Ray Removes Dust said: "The contaminated milk and meat incidents revealed vast and difficult problems in the country. Government departments are trying to shift the blame onto each other. We hope the Commission of Food Safety won't become just another rubber-stamp department."
The new healthcare reform plan is expected to be submitted to the NPC during this session. A netizen named September 9 said a major problem in China's health care system is that doctors boost their low pay by over-prescribing medicine. "As long as doctors' pay is linked in this way, hospitals won't be able to curb over-prescribing and unnecessary check-ups," said the netizen.
Netizens appealed to the government not to cut environmental standards for enterprises bidding for projects, saying: "The government must take strict measures against polluting projects. They should place special emphasis on energy saving and emissions reductions on large scale projects."
"Environment protection should be at the heart of the stimulus plan," said one group of netizens.
During 2008, a new rural insurance system was piloted in 47 cities and counties in covering about 500,000 people in Sichuan Province. Extending the plan and improving the overall social security system are key concerns for those surveyed.
Instead of the government supervising the Internet, the Internet should supervise government, according to some netizens. Internet supervision is a "double-edged sword", said netizen Huang Chenhao. "A provincial-level Internet-based disciplinary inspection and supervision office with an informant forum should be set up," he suggested.
Graduate unemployment, people who lost their jobs because of the May 12 earthquake, and migrant workers were the main focus in the topic. Sichuan Province is planning to create 620,000 urban jobs this year to take the unemployment rate below 4.5 percent.
Housing for people on low-incomes
Many netizens are concerned about the high cost of housing, the distribution of housing subsides, and the use of housing funds. They also want to see provision of housing for people on low-incomes to be speeded up.
Inequality and income distribution
Netizens want to see strengthening of controls on salaries of top managers in state-owned enterprises and reform of the mechanism by which salaries are fixed.
Some netizens complain that although the government is investing in rural primary schools and junior high schools, not enough is being invested in senior high schools in rural areas. Others complained about kindergarten fees and called for kindergartens to be included in the compulsory educational system.
(China.org.cn by Li Jingrong, March 5, 2009)