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Revised petition rules to take effect
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-29 00:03

The mother of a migrant family who wrote to the mayor of Beijing asking for her child to be treated to the same medical benefits as other children in the capital, has helped improve health care for thousands of families.

A few days later, in response to the woman's e-mail, the municipal office in charge of medical subsidies for teenagers, promised to resolve medical care problems for the children of the more than 4 million migrant workers in the city.

The story, carried on Monday on the website of the Beijing petition office, known as "xinfang ban," is a typical example of how the government deals with petitions from people in China.

Experts said the number of people making petitions has soared in recent years spurred by the increasing wealth gap and the growth of social problems.

With the aim "of protecting the lawful rights" of people with legitimate complaints and making local authorities more accountable, revised regulations for petitioning will come into effect on May 1, said Wei Jinmu, deputy director of the State Letters and Visits Bureau, yesterday.

In China, citizens and organizations with complaints can present information, make comments or suggestions or lodge complaints to relevant governmental departments through letters, e-mails, faxes, phone calls or in person, in an attempt to resolve their problems.

The implementation of the newly-amended Regulations on Letters and Visits marks "a step forward" in the way petitions are dealt with, said Wei. "With the deepening of reform and adjustment in national infrastructure, the decade-old regulations on petitioning could not meet the rapid changes taking place in modern China," he added.

Consisting of 51 articles in seven chapters the new regulations witnessed the revision or expansion of 46 articles, accounting for 90 per cent of the original, which was promulgated on October 28, 1995.

The new regulations emphasize "territorial jurisdiction" and the responsibility of the departments in charge, and rule out buck passing between different governmental departments.

The new rules state that authorities have 60 days to address complaints after receiving petitions, with a further 30 day extension allowed if appropriate. Petitioners also have a right to inquire about progress made in their cases and to a written response, they will also be allowed two appeals if they are unhappy with how their complaints have been handled.

(China Daily 04/29/2005 page2)

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