At a time when local governments have developed a reputation for competing
with one another to build the most lavish headquarters, a Henan official's
"brick and mortar" office presents a humble example of government restraint.
It has become a truism in official circles that a more people-oriented
approach to governance is necessary to winning public support. People make a lot
of assumptions based on the appearance of official office buildings, a survey
"It would have been possible to construct a 10 million yuan ($1.32 million)
office building using our county revenue, but I preferred to spend that money
improving people's lives," Wang Zhenwei, Party chief of Lushi County in Henan,
was quoted by People's Daily as saying.
His remarks immediately caught the public's attention, with some casting
doubts over the authenticity of the report.
A weeklong survey by China Youth Daily and Sina.com asked people how they
felt about Wang's approach to governance. The results showed that people across
the country favored the kind of self-restraint on display in Henan.
Some 61.3 percent of the 5,149 people surveyed said they appreciated the
low-key working style of the Lushi County officials.
And 64.8 percent said they cared more about people-oriented government than
the appearance of an office building.
However, some 23 percent of the respondents said they did not see any link
between government efficiency and the appearance of an office building, no
matter how humble.
"A brick and mortar office shouldn't dominate the headlines. We are not
saying the shabbier and humbler the office, the more honest and upright the
officials," according to comments from an anonymous netizen.
What caught people's attention were Wang's remarks about using revenue to
better people's lives. About 92 percent of the respondents said they approved of
On this point, 96.5 percent said they were not satisfied with their local
governments and urged them to improve their performance.
People said they considered Wang to be uniquely sensitive to people's needs,
meaning that the county would eventually have to develop a system for monitoring
(China Daily 07/24/2007 page3)