China Leader Encourages Criticism of Government
Premier Wen Jiabao recently paid a visit to petitioners at the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, where he took his image of populism a step further, the New York Times report:
…This week, the 68-year-old prime minister made what many analysts consider a bolder statement: he appeared at the nation’s top petition bureau in Beijing, where people go to file grievances, and encouraged citizens to criticize the government and press their cases for justice.
“We are the people’s government, and our power is vested upon us by the people,” the prime minister said during the visit, according to state-run news media. “We should use the power in our hands to serve the interest of the people, helping them to tackle difficulties in a responsible way.”
The crucial factor was the setting. The national petition bureau is known as a lightning rod for anger about official corruption, illegal land seizures, labor disputes and complaints of all sort, the kind of problems that reveal China’s continuing weakness on the rule of law. In a nation that fiercely snuffs out any sign of dissent or challenges to the ruling Communist Party, the government sometimes deems it appropriate to detain petitioners here or to forcibly send them back home.
But on Wednesday, the state-run news media showed images of the prime minister meeting two days earlier with a small group of petitioners at the bureau, officially known as the State Bureau for Letters and Calls. The state-controlled media reports said he encouraged government workers to handle the petitioner cases properly.