A private entrepreneur never expected an open letter he wrote accusing some local government officials of abusing their power to draw wide attention from top leaders like Premier Li Keqiang.
Wu Hai, CEO of the Crystal Orange Hotel, posted an open letter on his hotel’s social media messaging account on WeChat, complaining that some government officials treated private companies unfairly.
He wrote that even while President Xi Jinping was launching a fight against corruption two years ago, the local government and its subsidiary institutions in a city still demanded benefits from companies during citywide inspections before major traditional Chinese holidays.
The amount of benefits varied between companies according to their size, rankings in their own sector and relations with the government, Wu wrote on March 23.
The lack of an effective check-and-balance system for the government was a problem, so Wu urged the government to further clarify regulations, make more detailed rules, and ensure that local governments cannot interpret the regulations at will.
“Those who design a menu in the office may not know whether a dish is tasty or not. Only the chef and the diner know. Similarly, the reform on public administration should be carried out jointly by those who enforce laws, regulations and administrative orders as well as those who will be affected directly,” he told China Daily on May 18.
The letter, which was repeatedly reposted on WeChat and many websites, was taken seriously by government officials at various levels, including Guo Jinlong, Party chief of Beijing.
Soon, officials from the general office of the State Council contacted Wu, asking him to send his thoughts in a letter to the Premier.
Along with several scholars and officials, he was also invited to a seminar held by the central government on May 14 to discuss promoting transparency of public administration services at the local level.
“Government leaders said problems usually occurred at the grassroots level,” he said after attending the seminar.
An official with the State Council said the government will invite entrepreneurs and public representatives to join a comprehensive review of public administration.
“Apart from making standardized and detailed regulations, local governments should publish the regulations on their website for the public to check,” the official said. “Once a citizen finds the local government is using power that is unauthorized by laws and regulations, he or she can lodge a complaint with the upper level government or the media.”