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Engage all on big city woes

(China Daily) Updated: 2017-01-13 08:01

How to treat its chronic "big city diseases", such as traffic congestion, the undersupply of housing and its environmental degradation, is top of the agenda for this year's annual session of Beijing's political advisory body, which opened on Thursday.

Given that these big city problems have long plagued Beijing's decision-makers and also substantially affected residents' livelihoods, it is hoped that the participants this year can face up to the fundamental problems and dare to criticize current governance ideas and offer viable ways to treat these pressing issues.

They should be outspoken and direct so as to help the capital's decision-makers map out workable governance methods.

However, the discussions of decision-makers and advisors alone are not enough to effectively treat Beijing's big city diseases, and the public should not be regarded as just onlookers since these are issues that directly affect them. Any discussions should include active and interactive public participation.

The Beijing government and members of its advisory body may have their own perspectives, but the success of any formulas will to a large extent be decided by whether they win the approval of the public.

One of the fundamental reasons why no substantial progress had been made in solving the problems that blight the capital in past years is that previous formulas have mainly stayed at the administrative governance level and they have not involved the extensive participation of the public.

The lessons of the past should be learned and ordinary people should be given a bigger say through such means as holding open live broadcasts in which officials and ordinary people can discuss issues face to face or via micro blogs so that a variety of opinions can be solicited.

Public participation is also an important sign of whether a city has developed a modern governance model.

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