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Officials must treat public woes: Outlook Weekly
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The central government has asked all county heads to try to redress residents' grievances and help solve their problems.

The unprecedented move is in response to recent public protests and shows the central leadership is paying more attention to public complaints after a rising number of social conflicts at the grassroots level.

The central government recently ordered all the Party chiefs of 2,300 counties to act on people's complaints and try to resolve their disputes, the Outlook Weekly magazine has said.

The help-public campaign, which started earlier this month, makes it mandatory for all local CPC chiefs to keep track of key public complaint cases till they are solved, the magazine said.

"All the county CPC chiefs will have to shoulder this responsibility," it said, referring to the rising number of public complaints and mass incidents at the county level.

The central government has taken note of the incidents and wants the local officials to make every possible effort to ensure a harmonious social atmosphere.

The latest in the series of such incidents took place in the affluent coastal province of Zhejiang. Hundreds of migrant workers attacked and injured three policemen after an argument over registration of a migrant as a temporary resident turned violent.

After the central government order was implemented, people have flocked to meet with local leaders with their complaints, which have ranged from illegal land seizures and judicial injustice to non-payment of salary and village officials' corruption.

Party secretary and magistrate of Pingyang county in Zhejiang received 362 people on July 10 alone, the Wenzhou Metropolitan News has reported.

Mo Jihong, a professor at the law institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the government move comes in response to accumulating social ills during the country's economic reform.

"Infringement of legal rights of the public is still common ... at the grassroots level. That's why the county Party chiefs are the protagonists of this campaign."

And the system, if implemented properly, could yield positive results, he said.

Huang Qingping, a resident of Huaining county in Anhui province, said he hoped the move could be regularized, instead of being another "temporary image-projecting" act.

(China Daily July 16, 2008)

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