Wen Brings Life Stories, Hard News to Public Chat
    2011-02-27 19:05:25     Xinhua      Web Editor: Xu
by Xinhua writer Wu Chen

If anyone wondered what the Chinese government was actually doing to address the nation's problems, Premier Wen Jiabao gave them some answers Sunday.

One piece of hard news announced by Wen during his third annual on-line chat with the public was that the State Council, the Cabinet, would discuss Wednesday proposals to raise the threshold of personal income tax.

The plan, if put into effect, would benefit middle and low-income groups, Wen said, in answer to a question about taxes.

It soon became a hot topic on the Internet, with thousands forwarding or commenting on it.

"It's definitely necessary to raise the threshold of personal income tax. The main source of tax should not come from low-income groups, but the rich," said a post by "Guangzhou Lawyer" on Sina.com, one of many in support.

Other concrete information revealed in the chat included the government plan to set its annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth target for the 2011-2015 period at 7 percent, highlighting the need to raise the quality of growth and improve living standards.

He also said the government aimed to reduce energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16 to 17 percent by 2015 from current levels.

The schedule of this year's chat was announced Saturday evening, and hundreds of thousands of questions had been submitted to the host websites of the central government (www.gov.cn) and Xinhua News Agency (www.news.cn) when the chat started at 9 a.m. Sunday. That figure had exceeded 400,000 when the chat ended.

Questions mainly focused on living standards issues: consumer prices,housing prices, jobs for university graduates, income tax reform...

Wen responded to the questions with analysis and explanation of government measures either in place or yet to be taken.

"I want to know the people's thoughts, wishes and requirements and tell them what the government has been working on, what has been done and what problems still exist," said Wen.

His answer to a question on homeless children was another surprise.

"I have been paying attention to the problem for a long time and (I know that) some netizens reveal the cases of homeless children by taking pictures and putting them on the Internet," Wen said.

He had instructed the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Civil Affairs to intensify rescue efforts.

The protection of homeless children came under the public spotlight when Yu Jianrong, a professor with the China Academy of Social Sciences, created the microblog "Street Photos to Rescue Child Beggars" last month, calling for the rescue of abducted children forced into begging.

Wen said he believed the joint efforts of local governments, central government departments and the public could end the problem.

On his microblog, Yu welcomed the Premier's support for the cause, saying, "There is still a lot to do."

Wen told his own stories to the public when answering questions raised by young people of the post-1990s generation.

"I wrote two letters in my blood when I graduated from university, volunteering to work in Tibet," he said, adding he believed young people would succeed if they held to their faith and ideals.

He also revealed that he suffered a form of phthisis in college, but even during treatment he continued to study and performed well in exams.

"I never surrendered. I have always thought that I would be a useful person," he says.

An Internet post by "Jia Luying" said, "His experience as a college student will definitely inspire today's youth."

Wen Jiabao held previous online chats on Feb. 28, 2009, and Feb. 27, 2010. In a country with 450 million Internet users, the Internet has gradually become one of the most important channels for Chinese authorities to gauge and solicit public opinion.


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