One case resolved since eight petitioners met Wen

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 January, 2011, 12:00am

Two days after Premier Wen Jiabao's unprecedented visit to the country's top complaints body, many of the eight petitioners lucky enough to air their grievances are being kicked around like balls but at least one has had his case resolved.

Two petitioners, from Hubei and Shanxi , who complained about illegal land requisitions and unscrupulous bosses told The Southern Metropolis News that no authorities had contacted them since the meeting and they tried to call officials several times but had not been able to get through.

Two others, from Jilin and Jiangsu , who also petitioned over illegal land requisitions, have been accused by regional authorities for making false statements, the Oriental Morning Post reported.

The only success so far is a petitioner from Tianjin who was representing more than 100 migrant workers owed back-pay by the government - they received the money.

Another petitioner from Hebei, who complained about insufficient social welfare protection for the disabled, was told that county authorities discussed his case.

Two other petitioners, from Shandong and Inner Mongolia , who aired complaints with Wen of illegal land requisitions and farmland allocation, have not been tracked down by mainland media.

Although very few achieved any redress after meeting Wen, analysts said the premier's surprise visit to woo petitioners and ease escalating social tensions was likely to encourage more petitioners to go to Beijing for a chance to solve their problems.

Jilin petitioner Xu Guiqin said after her meeting with Wen that her neighbours, who were also affected by demolition plans targeting their shops, performed a rural folk dance and set off firecrackers to celebrate.

'Even the premier is paying attention to it, an investigation will certainly be launched,' the Oriental Morning Post quoted Xu as saying.

But the euphoria may have been premature, with a vice-mayor telling the newspaper that the city government told the central government that Xu was lying.

Hubei petitioner Wang Aiguo said he lined up with 300 other petitioners to submit their letters at 7am on Monday, and 50 of them were taken to the second floor where they were given lunch boxes and asked to wait. Eight were chosen for security checks in the afternoon. They only found out they would meet Wen then, The Southern Metropolis News reported.

Veteran China watcher Johnny Lau Yui-siu said it was impossible for petitioners to achieve anything if regional authorities did not strictly follow Wen's instructions. 'Wen won't be able to follow every single case himself as a premier ... regional authorities would never listen to petitioners' grievances without Wen's direct orders and follow-up,' Lau said. 'That's why it turns out to be Wen's one-man show.

'The premier vowed to launch political reform last year and paid a surprising visit to petitioners, but Wen's personal determination is far from enough. Any changes to the current political system need effort from both the Politburo and regional governments.'

Shanxi petitioner Guo Shunmin said an officer from the state complaints office told him to 'keep ringing the Shanxi provincial government' after meeting with Wen, but he could not get through on the line after calling the government three times, The Southern Metropolis News reported. He said no officials had contacted him.

Wang said he had not received a response from the provincial government either. 'I was the last to talk to the premier. He asked me what kind of problem I wanted to complain about, and said he understood my case after I stated my problem,' The Southern Metropolis News quoted Wang as saying.

''What you talked about is land requisition, the minister of land resources will answer your question,' the premier said. The minister stood beside him, saying it was a grim illegal land requisition case. The premier then ordered the chief of State Bureau for Letters and Calls to oversee my case, and my turn was finished.'