Beijing: local governments should talk with the people to resolve problems
The local authorities are told to pay attention to social problems, and resolve them. But experts say that intervention is needed in corruption and abuse of power. Meanwhile, hundreds of people take to the streets in Shenzhen and Chongqing, against "ordinary" injustices by governments and businesses.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Chinese Communist Party and the State Council have issued "directives" to local governments, telling them to have "direct dialogue" with the people and to resolve all problems "promptly." But hotspots of protest for economic reasons continue to break out, with hundreds of people taking to the streets in Shenzhen and Chongqing.

With three new "directives," the highest agencies of the CP call upon "governmental officials at all levels to regularly receive petitioners," and to pay attention to direct contact with the population in order to listen to public opinion in a timely manner and resolve problems "promptly." Moreover, they must resolve "internal contradictions," a reference that experts interpret as a call not to use power to pursue individual economic interests.

There is a widespread practice in the country of presenting petitions to ask for justice, even against abuses by the authorities. Dissatisfied citizens often go to Beijing to present complaints to the central government against local administrations, which frequently try to stop them by threatening and arresting them during their trip.

Professor Zhang Ming of Renmin University in Beijing observes that these directives could be a temporary solution to contain protests and an aid in resolving some problems, but that it is necessary to take action against the corruption, widespread injustice, and abuse of public power that are the cause of the protests.

In 2008, there were at least 87,000 mass protests in China over economic injustice. Meanwhile, in Shenzhen more than a thousand people surrounded the police station (in the photo) for hours, until early yesterday morning, when they obtained the release of two people who had been arrested in a dispute with government officials. In January, 2,760 families took possession of affordable housing in the village of Taoyuancun, costing about 5,000 yuan per square meter, a little more than one third of the average local price. But the apartments turned out to be of extremely poor quality, with cracks in the walls and the ceiling, and even in the foundations, which are crumbling. In March, the government admitted to the defects and apologized, but on April 8 offered only 12,000 yuan in compensation per apartment, and an exemption from real estate taxes until July. After outraged rejection by representatives for the people, officials began to issue threats; a scuffle ensued, and two citizen representatives were arrested.

One resident tells the South China Morning Post, "we are just poor, but should still have the right to be treated fairly."

In Chongqing yesterday, more than 400 workers for the Jindi Industry Group took to the streets and blocked traffic in protest against the failure to pay wages for three months, at about 383 yuan per month. The company is in crisis because of the collapse in textile exports.