Zhou Yongkang, the top mainland official in charge of law and order, yesterday called for better handling of people's complaints and urged officials to take a preventive approach before people's discontent turned into radical action.
Zhou was previously rumoured to have been implicated in the political saga of former Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai. But such talk was dismissed after his frequent public appearances, which were apparently aimed at sending a message to the public that he could remain in his post at least until the 18th Party Congress this year.
Speaking at a national conference to officials from the letters and petition bureaus across the country, Zhou said they should take the initiative to face people's grievances and resolve them at an early stage.
He added that officials should take multiple measures to allow people to voice their complaints. The authorities should improve the ways petitions are handled and establish a comprehensive system to prevent or reduce the number of petitions, which are the traditional means by which common people convey their complaints to leaders.
Zhou is the head of the Central Political and Legislative Committee, which directs the central government's legal policy and legislative agenda.
Yesterday's conference was attended by state leaders including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao and their respective likely successors Vice-President Xi Jinping and Vice premier Li Keqiang.