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Premier's intervention should not be necessary
By Guo Yali (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-23 10:29

The Jixi municipal government in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province was millions of yuan in arrears to a construction company, which puts the company in a precarious financial position that caused payment default to hundreds of farmers-turned workers.

As in several similar cases, Premier Wen Jiabao ordered an investigation and timely resolution of the case earlier this year. The local government, however, hid the truth and tried to fool the State Council.

The truth was not uncovered and the responsible officials remained at large until Premier Wen made a third appeal and a special investigation team was dispatched from Beijing.

The case was eventually resolved, but the cost of supervision and restraint of public power was very dear.

Given the fact that the personal will of those in high positions sometimes outweighs established rules, if officials can defy the personal instructions of the country's top executive, there is no rule they will not bend.

This incident inspired nationwide concern largely because of the dramatic involvement of the premier.

The Jixi officials' collective efforts to deceive the premier reveals the alarming downside of the absence of supervisory mechanisms over administrative power.

The local officials might have taken the chance, thinking there was little risk of being caught because it was unlikely the premier would get personally involved.

That is very true. No matter how hard Premier Wen works, it is simply beyond his personal capacity to address all the problems besetting a country with 1.3 billion residents.

Like many cases brought before him, this one should have and could have been solved at local levels. If there was no means in Jixi to check the municipal government, plenty of tools are available at the provincial level.

Why should such a dispute be brought all the way to Beijing?

The fact the dispute was passed to the premier by a Beijing-based member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference is ridiculous. Where were the competent local authorities?

There is only one premier in this country, and it is impossible for him to take personal control of all administrative activities.

The current situation, in which it appears only resolute efforts by the top leaders and the central government can solve grass-roots problems, is unquestionably abnormal.

Instead of the premier's high order, a more compelling system of power supervision should serve as the ultimate solution to problems of this kind.

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