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Links 1 through 10 of 21 by David Bandurski tagged government

In a piece published in the most recent edition of the official Party journal Qiushi (求是), and shared across China's internet today, Premier Wen Jiaobao (温家宝) calls for great government transparency, "creating the conditions for the people to monitor the government." The piece, drawn from Premier Wen's March 26 speech on clean governance at the State Council, comes right on the heels of the official announcement last week that former Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai has been removed from the Party's Central Committee for "serious discipline violations."

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At a economic planning session in Beijing yesterday, Chinese government officials said the emphasis for economic policy in 2012 would be "stable economic growth." In its coverage of the Central Economic Work Conference, the official People's Daily said that "the present round of crisis-prevention measures" (一轮反危机操作) would focus on tax cuts and incentives rather than stimulus spending.

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China's Ministry of Railways responded today to an online call for information about 29 people alleged to be still missing from the July 23 train collision in Wenzhou. Authorities denied that 29 people were unaccounted for in the disaster, which has drawn widespread anger to the government and the Ministry of Railways in particular. The ministry countered the online list by saying that 1 of those listed got off the train at Wuxi before the crash, and 3 others had already been listed among the dead. 

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Chinese media report today that Ministry of Railways chief Sheng Guangzu (盛光祖) warned at a forum this week that railway project construction must keep to planned construction periods based on "scientific" assessments and must not be expedited. For weeks now, but particularly since the July 23 high-speed rail crash, the ministry has been harshly accused of rushing projects to completion and disregarding safety concerns. Coverage of this railway ministry forum also further marks the shift in press coverage since the Central Propaganda Department issued restrictions on coverage of the rail crash story on July 29. More coverage in recent days has been one-sided, allowing the government, and particularly the railway ministry, to issue its own explanations without harsher questioning. 

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Writing on Sina Weibo yesterday, He Yanguang (贺延光), a veteran photojournalist with China Youth Daily, wrote of his confusion at a Xinhua notice yesterday saying the central Party was demanding greater openness from government. We have our reading of the notice here: http://bit.ly/oiB3Jp
He Yanguang writes: "I don't understand! Xinhua News Agency says in an official notice today that there was a need to grasp openness [in the handling] of major sudden-breaking incidents and problems of key concern to the people . . . to thoroughly bring the supervisory role of the media into play, and to strengthen the monitoring [of government] by society . . . Well then, why in recent days have directives prevented media from asking questions and commenting, and made them pull countless pages overnight, so that resentment bristles in the media? Do they up there want to act like whores and build monuments to their chastity? Or is the propaganda department beyond the central Party's control?"

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China's State Council has released the list of officials recently appointed to a special team charged with investigating the July 23 train crash in Wenzhou that left at least 29 people dead. The list, shared by legal scholar He Weifang (贺卫方) through his Sina microblog, includes a number of officials with the government's Ministry of Railways, which has been at the center of the crisis this week. He Weifang writes: "Officials from the railway ministry stand out [on the list]. They should decline [participation]. No one can be a judge of events that directly concern their own interests -- this is the most basic demand of procedural justice."

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Visiting the site of the July 23 train crash in Wenzhou today, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao apologized for not heading to the scene sooner, saying he had been ill for 11 days. On social media sites, Chinese quickly cast doubt on the premier's statement, posting official press photos from People's Daily of Wen shaking hands with visiting state leaders between July 18 and July 24. Click on the headline above to visit one composite photo on Sina Weibo (may require account setup, which is strongly encouraged). 

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A reckoning of the “three public expenditures,” or san gong jingfei (三公经费), has long been a concern for Chinese. These are: 1. Expenses for overseas trips, ostensibly for government business but often for family vacations. 2. Expenses for food and entertainment. 3. Expenses for public vehicles, usually luxury sedans, private drivers, gasoline and related expenses, including maintenance. Back on February 27, 2010, Premier Wen Jiabao (温家宝) was asked during an online dialogue with internet users whether it was really so hard to deal with the problem of the “three public expenditures.” Wen responded that the government was committed to dealing with the problem, but action on the “three public expenditures” has proved nearly impossible for China’s government. China reveals today that China Customs topped the list of government agencies with huge "3P expenditures" last year, totaling more than 500 million yuan. For news and content on this issue, see this QQ page: http://bit.ly/phyMIC

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Guangzhou Daily reports today that a 7-year-old girl with Hong Kong residency was found emaciated and wandering the streets in Guangzhou earlier this week after jumping out of a second-story apartment where she had been held by her mother. The report, which detailed a history of abuse, sparked anger from readers online, who bristled at the alleged cruelty of the girl's parents and said there should be better laws and enforcement to protect children. Comments on the article at QQ.com had topped 5,000 by midday. http://bit.ly/pPh6xD

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The CCP's official People's Daily reports today that the State Council has issued a notice on tougher oversight for food additive use. The notice outlines five measures in the abstract for cracking down on the illegal use of harmful food additives, and pledges to "protect the health and safety of the people." China's government has been under increasing pressure in recent weeks to deal effectively with food safety concerns, as media have uncovered a series of abuses, and as little progress seems to have been made in the more than two years since the 2008 poisoned milk scandal. Pledges in the State Council notice to "strengthen" oversight of food products and to create a "comprehensive web of checks" met with skepticism from Chinese readers. "China has mechanisms but nothing real. If [food safety] inspectors can inspect bread or bean sprouts whenever and wherever they please, in the market or on the street, how is it that all these food safety issues have come out in the media?"

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