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Deputies persevere on winding road to change

中国日报网 2014-03-05 09:54





Turning two sessions proposals into reality can be a long but rewarding process, report He Na and Peng Yining in Beijing.

For four years, He Youlin, an educator and deputy to the National People's Congress, repeatedly proposed the relaxation of China's family planning policy.

Although the proposal was rejected on several occasions, he continued to raise the issue andeventually achieved his goal.

"I just did what an NPC deputy should do, but I received more support and trust than I everexpected," he said.

As the two sessions, the annual meetings of the NPC and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, open this week, such proposals have come under the spotlight once again.

Reform of various aspects of national policy, including family planning, re-education through labor, and medical security, was originally proposed by members of China's largest decision-making bodies.

During the past decade, suggestions and recommendations from deputies have become the driving force behind China's political and economic change.

He, principal of Sun Yat-sen Memorial Middle School in Zhongshan, Guangdong province, said turning a proposal into reality isn't an easy or straightforward task.

For the first two years of the campaign, his was a lone voice among the deputies.

His proposal failed to attract the attention of government departments, and he didn't receive areply. At one point, he was approached with a suggestion that he should shelve his proposal tosave time for more worthwhile endeavors.

"Of course, I didn't give up because I knew my proposal was based on facts. I learned about the struggles people faced and the real problems caused by the strict family planning policy during the past three decades. Also, the people I had interviewed were waiting for good news," He said. "The situation improved in the following two years when the National Health and Family Planning Commission dispatched staff to meet me and explain its point of view."

He's tireless efforts and perseverance, in tandem with a small number of NPC deputies andmembers of the CPPCC, paid off. In November, the CPC leadership decided to relax the familyplanning policy nationwide. The reform stated that if one member of a couple is an only child,they will be allowed to have a second child.

"I consider the committee's change of attitude to be a huge step forward. I'll continue to handin family planning-related proposals this year, because although the policy has been relaxed, inmy opinion the moves don't go far enough. I will call for all limits on the size of families to bethe removed to help relieve the rising problem of labor shortages," He said.

The family planning proposal isn't his only success. Some of his other proposals have alsobeen adopted, such as greater financial input in elementary education.

"I am a deputy from the grassroots, so what I say during the two sessions should represent the people, so their voices can be heard. The road to seeing a printed proposal become areality is a bumpy one, but I will continue to travel it. It's rewarding to see people's livesimproving and to know that I have played a part in that improvement," he said.

Social progress

Xie Chuntao, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said the motions proposed by NPC deputies and CPPCC members have an obvious effect on the development of social progress and improvements in people's welfare.

He said deputies and members devote alot of time and energy every year to visiting people to collect suggestions for proposals and become fully conversant with the problems they face. Once a deputy's round of visits has been concluded, they conduct research and consult the data to compose practical reports that will ensure extensive discussion of hot issues during the two sessions.

When formulated, the proposals are sent to the relevant government departments, which are obliged to reply to the deputies and members within a certain period.

"Proposals from deputies are the best way of lodging an appeal," said Sun Chunlong, founding director of the Longyue Charity Foundation, one of China's leading advocates of improved welfare for Kuomintang veterans of World War II.

Sun said his efforts to incorporate all surviving KMT veterans into China's social welfare network were in vain until he found an NPC deputy who was willing to propose the issue at the two sessions. "I tried everything, including sending letters to the government and making appeals via the media, but nothing worked," Sun said.

"Then an NPC deputy from Hong Kong read my story on Sina Weibo (China's Twitter-like social networking site) and said he wanted to help."

With Sun's help, Wang Mingang, a business tycoon and NPC deputy, drafted a proposal and presented it at the two sessions in 2013. The proposal was adopted and four months later, the Ministry of Civil Affairs announced that all surviving KMT veterans of World War II would beincorporated in the social welfare network, something that had been denied them before.

"Deputies have more power and influence than the average person and grassroots organizations," Sun said. His proposal gained widespread attention and at least five other deputies indicated their support by shelving similar motions. "When more deputies participate,the possibility of change increases," he said.

Because the new regulation is still thin on details, including the exact monthly allowance to be paid to each veteran, Sun will continue to lobby for amendments. "I will fly to Beijing during the two sessions and try to talk to more deputies about the issue," he said.

Last year, 99.8 percent of the 5,403 proposals submitted by CPPCC members garnered replies from the related government departments, according to a report published at a CPPCC meeting in February. While 24.2 percent of the proposals have been adopted, 61.7 percent are awaiting further processing. When proposals are not adopted, the departments have to explainthe decision to the deputies involved.

According to the NPC secretariat, the quality of the proposals from the 2,987 NPC deputies ishigh. With its relevance to and influence on all the major social aspects of daily life, including people's livelihoods and measures to eliminate corruption, the proposal system has bolstered the powers of the NPC.

To ensure that the opinions of different ethnic groups are heard, each of the country's 55 ethnic groups has at least one representative at the meetings. There are 409 deputies from these groups, accounting for 13.69 percent of the total number of delegates, while female deputies account for 23.4 percent and workers and peasants for 13.42 percent. Male Han Chinese representatives account for the remainder.

Celebrity deputies

"We need to admit that some people question the effect of the deputies and members' involvement in the management of the country," said Xie from the Party school. "I think that's because a large number of people are unfamiliar with the way the NPC and CPPCC work.Also, some of the media reports on the sessions focus heavily on celebrity deputies andmembers. That results in the voices of grassroots deputies and members not being heard."

Moreover, a very small number of deputies and members use the sessions for their own ends, according to Xie, who urged greater supervision of the deputies and members to ensure that they have correctly discharged their duties. He said the number of deputies and members fromthe grassroots should rise.

He, the middle school president, agreed, saying: "Some deputies are only interested in theirown ambitions and problems, not those of the people. I know a NPC deputy who is the chairman of a business. Instead of handing in proposals about hot social issues, he mainlypromotes and talks about his business and its products during the meetings."

Chen Gong, a CPPCC member from Beijing, said she collects more than 200 opinions everyyear as a member of the Beijing Dongcheng district committee of the China National Democratic Construction Association, a group mainly composed of people from the world ofcommerce.

Chen said all the issues people raise with her, ranging from drain-cover management to foreign policy initiatives, will be sent to the relevant government departments. In her experience, 30 to 50 percent of them are noted or adopted every year, such as her 2012 proposal about the development of Beijing's culture industry, which was adopted and overseen directly by themayor.

Chen said she spends a lot of time talking with those she represents and conducting research before drafting each proposal.

"I know that my proposals can make a real difference, and so I have to be responsible forthem," she said. "I am a representative of the people, and speaking on their behalf is what I do."






































(译者 风语河岸柳 编辑 丹妮)



















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