BEIJING -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had a two-hour online chat with netizens here starting from 3 pm Saturday jointly hosted by the central government website and the Xinhua website.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (C) prepares to chat with Internet surfers on two state news portals in Beijing, China, Feb. 28, 2009. [Xinhua]
The two portals, the central government website (www.gov.cn) and the Xinhua News Agency website (www.xinhuanet.com), jointly held the interview with Premier Wen, which was live shown in both texts and videos.
This was the first online chat involving Premier Wen and the public and was the second high-profile online discussion by top Chinese leaders. President Hu Jintao had a brief Q&A with netizens at the website People's Daily in June last year.
Wen's chat with netizens came just days before the annual session of the National People's Congress and that of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing.
This year's "two sessions", convened at a time when the global financial crisis is still spreading, is expected to focus on thorny issues such as escalating jobless rate, social security, medical care, and corruption.
These issues are also well reflected in the nearly 90,000 questions thrown to Wen in the chatroom from netizens around the country.
Govt preparing for officials to declare assets
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the government is making "active preparations" for officials to declare their assets amid efforts to combat corruption.
"We need to promote transparency of government affairs and also need to make public officials' assets," he said.
"Such a declaration system must be established and carried out so as to produce substantial results," he said.
"It should be a major move to fight against corruption." Wen said the most important thing in combating corruption is to establish a good system that can prevent power from being too centralized without restriction.
"Only power is restricted can corruption be prevented fundamentally," he added. Earlier this month, authorities in Altay Prefecture in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region publicly released a list of the assets of more than 1,000 current and retired officials.
It was hailed as forerunner in the country's declaration system of officials' assets.
Also Saturday, China's top legislature approved a number of criminal law amendments including anti-graft moves.
A new amendment bans relatives of or people who have close relations with government employees from conducting corrupt deals between the employee and bribe-givers.
Offenders in "very serious cases" could face a minimum jail term of seven years, according to the amendment.
Proposed punishments also include fines and confiscation of personal property.