CPPCC prioritizes public well-being

By Li Yang (China Daily)
Updated: 2014-03-03 08:04

Spokesman says residents must help tackle issue of pollution

Helping the government solve people's livelihood issues is high on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference's to-do list this year, the spokesman for the top political advisory body in China said on Sunday.

In the first news conference of the second session of the CPPCC's 12th National Committee, held Sunday in Beijing, CPPCC spokesman Lyu Xinhua spent a quarter of the time responding to media questions on the people's well-being.

Lyu said he believes air pollution is the most pressing issue in people's lives. North China was shrouded in heavy smog from Feb 20 to 26.

Asked how to clean smog that has been over much of China since last year, Lyu said: "We hope governments at various levels can further strengthen their prevention and treatment measures and conduct effective supervision according to law. Enterprises should also fulfill their social responsibilities."

He continued: "Residents should also actively participate into the process to form joint forces with all of the parties involved. It is an arduous and long process to clean the air. I hope blue skies are not a distant dream."

In September, the State Council created the air pollution prevention and treatment action plan, China's first national framework document on air pollution. Under the plan, by 2017, the concentration ratio of inhalable particles in Chinese cities should drop by more than 10 percent from 2012 levels, and should be reduced by 25 percent in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, 20 percent along the Yangtze River Delta and 15 percent in the Pearl River Delta.

Premier Li Keqiang, presiding over a special meeting of the State Council on Feb 12, pledged to address air pollution by optimizing energy and resource consumption structures, weeding out outdated industrial productivity, and establishing an accountability system for departments and leaders in charge of air quality.

Lyu also addressed a question on the poor education and employment issues of areas with ethnic minority groups, saying the CPPCC considers this a priority.

From April to June, the CPPCC organized a special investigation team that conducted research on the issues in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Shanghai.

"The CPPCC attaches great importance to education and employment issues in these areas. We are lobbying the government to increase its funding and policy support for the areas," Lyu said.

The Chinese government started the vocational education assistance program for ethnic minority students in Xinjiang in 2011. More than 3,000 students from the poverty-stricken southern Xinjiang region were sent to 31 vocational education schools in nine provinces and cities in East China. They received three years of free education with an annual grant of 5,000 yuan ($810) each.

Lyu said, "These students will graduate soon this year. I hope they can benefit from their education and find their ideal jobs."

The question of migrant workers' unpaid wages and their difficulty in claiming compensation for work-related injuries were other hot social issues that Lyu addressed at the news conference.

Lyu said he believes the issue of unpaid wages is being addressed much better than before, with the help of many parties, including the media.

"Some migrant construction workers do not sign formal labor contracts and do not have any work-related injury insurance," Lyu said. "That's why it is difficult for them to get their due compensation in case of work-related injuries."

The second session of the CPPCC's 12th National Committee will run from Monday to March 12 in Beijing.