County officials spend little time with locals

Updated: 2011-10-20 07:58

By Wang Huazhong (China Daily)

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BEIJING - County-level officials spend more time on indoor paperwork than field investigations, as well as more time with peers and superiors than with subordinates and the common people, according to a survey by the country's top social think tank.

County officials spend little time with locals

The nationwide survey conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences shows these officials spend only 5 percent of their time visiting locals and listening to petitioners.

About 70 to 80 percent of China's population lives in county-level communities, which puts county heads and administrators in a very important position to make decisions and carry out social management work, according to Zhu Lijia, a professor of political studies with the Chinese Academy of Governance.

The working style and personality of the county-level officials are the "very major reason" why many people feel, to some extent, the "sense of distance" to the Party and government and the "sense of alienation" to Party and government leaders, said the survey published on Monday.

The survey sampled the daily lives of 162 officials in 12 counties of China's eight provinces in the northeast, southeast, central and the west.

Among the officials, top Party and government leaders account for 14.8 percent. Most of the remaining people are county-level officials who also serve as members of the county's standing committee of the Communist Party of China.

Each week, officials spent an average of 9.79 hours on indoor research, 8.88 hours for business trips, 8.42 hours for meetings, 6.38 hours for outdoor surveys, 5.25 hours reading documents and 4.27 hours accompanying higher-level officials.

They accompany superiors on surveys four times a week.

In contrast, they only use one hour holding dialogues with locals, 0.89 hours listening to petitioners and 0.57 hours paying visits to locals, said the survey.

A former county head in Southwest China's Guizhou province, who asked not to be named, said the survey result "is basically true".

"But most of the time, the officials go against their will to accompany the higher level officials."

"They may carry out work without visiting the people, but they wouldn't dare leave the superior officials unaccompanied," he told China Daily.

In addition, a secretary of a county head in Guizhou added that the officials are tied to working indoors and to meetings partly because a growing number of social issues need their opinions and decisions.

"Their power comes with great responsibilities. Therefore, they have to spend a lot of time on studying policy and deciding sensitive issues such as work safety," he said.

However, Zhu warned of the serious consequences of such a working style.

"If the situation goes on like this, the Party and the government will be further alienated from the public."

"They will not be able to learn about the people's demands and appeals, they won't understand the real situation and will allow problems to grow big by neglecting them."