China seeks to break shackles on mind
Updated: 2008-03-14 21:08
BEIJING -- Chen Yimin is so busy that he often misses lunches, but he still manages a smile.
The 43-year-old government official in Wenling, east China's Zhejiang Province, is satisfied because his brainchild, a budget review mechanism allowing grassroots participation in local parliaments, has been accepted by the governments of five more towns after a two-year standstill.
Chen attributes the progress to a local "emancipation of mind" campaign, a unique Chinese political term that demands officials to free up their minds for economic and social development. "Without the campaign, I would not expect progress."
He shuttles between the five towns in Wenling which agreed to carry out the budget review mechanism to show officials and residents how to do it. The mechanism was first applied to two towns in 2005, but was rejected by other towns in the following two years.
"The ordinary people should have their say when the budget is being made. However, some officials could not accept this idea," Chen said.
When Chen worked on his grassroots democracy experiments, top Chinese leaders urged officials and governments at all levels to continue breaking the shackles on their minds at the "two sessions", or the annual sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC).
President Hu Jintao, when joining the NPC delegations in group discussion, called for "bigger steps" to emancipate the mind and carry out the reform and opening up drive.
Premier Wen Jiabao, on his part, said "First, we must continue to liberate our thinking" when summarizing lessons in the experiences over the last five years, which he said was "a momentous period".
Mind liberation was also a theme for discussions among Chinese lawmakers, or deputies to the NPC, and political advisors, or members of the CPPCC National Committee.
NPC deputy Zhang Baoshun, also CPC chief in north China's Shanxi Province, said "Shanxi's development had been stagnant because of too many shackles on minds. Now I would like to say the room for development depends on the room for free thinking."