01/22/2009, 00.00
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Party must give “good example” to avoid social unrest

Guangdong party boss warns provincial officials to shape up; focus more on their work, not their career. According to official data 87,000 mass protests occurred in 2008 due to labour problems.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Public officials must fight corruption, hold the line on perks and ceremonies, and think more about reducing the gap between the masses and themselves than their own careers; otherwise, the worsening economic situation and growing unemployment could lead to mass unrest, endanger the country’s institutions and undermine social stability, this according to Guangdong Communist Party Chief Wang Yang (pictured, second from left) who took provincial officials to task, the Guangzhou Daily reported.

Mr Wang said that only a noticeable improvement in the conduct of public servants could restore public confidence and salvage China’s manufacturing heartland, home to its “economic miracle”, from sinking.

For Guangdong’s party boss, the province's stagnant economic and political problems are partly due to officials who are unwilling to take responsibility and who have lost their drive to work and innovate. Party leaders got “a profound lesson from massive social disturbances in recent years,” he said.

In order to maintain control they must regain the people’s trust, not an easy task since many officials “are either frustrated or handle the circumstances improperly when facing complicated situations.”

Last year in Guangzhou alone 384 officials were charged for corruption involving more than 421 million yuan (US$ 55 million).

The economic crisis has made life worse for ordinary people, especially migrants, and this has led to social unrest. Officially 87,000 mass protests were recorded across the country in 2008 because of labour problems, including thousands of plant shutdowns and the non-payment of wages.

Economists admit that the unemployment rate in urban areas is much higher than the 9.4 per cent stated in a recent report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Close to 33 million urban residents lost their jobs in the second half of 2008.

Wang is one of the most promising rising political stars on the mainland and is also considered one of its most innovative thinkers.

Guangdong has imposed a freeze on public spending and reduced budgets for external activities, such as exhibitions, at least for the duration of the current economic downturn.

Provincial Party Discipline Chief Zhu Mingguo said severe penalties would be imposed for overspending on government cars, conferences, overseas travel and other administration expenses this year. Officials have also been banned from squandering public money on personal gifts, bonuses, dining, travel and entertainment.

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