US expert: 'put people first' policy noble idea

Updated: 2010-03-06 11:21
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LOS ANGELES - China's policy to "put people first" in its efforts to build a harmonious society is a noble idea, a US expert on China studies said.

Richard Baum, former director of the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), made the comments during a recent interview with Xinhua ahead of the opening of the annual session of China's National People's Congress (NPC).

He said it is a major step forward for China to stress the need to respect human dignity, although more work needs to be done, especially on the local level.

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"To put people first, local governments should be brought into account for their behavior," said Baum.

The expert noted that China has been making efforts to reduce the gaps between the rich and poor, between developed and developing areas, between rural and urban areas, between coastal and interior provinces, and between  large state enterprises and small private businesses.

Some of the problems have already been solved, he added.

"China has started to put more investment into the interior (provinces), and that's good. It shows the real commitment of China to raise the level of living standard of the general public, " said Baum.

The expert said that a decent living standard is necessary to make people lead more fulfilled, dignified lives.
The first thing, Baum said, is to make sure that poverty is eradicated. China has made a lot of efforts in that area, he added.

The expert said China's central government "has done a good job" in defining what people's rights are.

Baum, who had headed the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies for years, has visited China many times and is very active in the research of issues concerning China.