From Chinese Law and Politics Blog:
Chinese authorities report overwhelming success in resolving citizen grievances and reducing the numbers of petitions brought through the xinfang (letters and visits) system since the amendment of the national xinfang regulations in 2005. But a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) suggests that the core institutional problems with the system continue unchecked.
Chinese citizens commonly rely on petitioning Party and government xinfang bureaus for official redress of their grievances, presenting millions of such petitions annually. Chinese authorities themselves note that many such petitions are in fact grievances that should technically be resolved through other channels such as litigation, arbitration, or administrative reconsideration. Despite heavy reliance by Chinese citizens on petitioning practices and xinfang channels, they rarely provide redress, and are linked to a wide range of abuses of petitioners. [Full Text]