“The government should first take into consideration what people think and often listen to ideas from all walks of life. The key to administration is to comply with the will of people,” Premier Li Keqiang said at a symposium held on Jan 27 for soliciting opinions on a draft Government Work Report.
In the meeting were leaders of the State Council and 10 invited representatives, including a relocated resident, a young entrepreneur, a farmer, a university principal, and entertainment and sports stars.
Premier Li went straight to the point at the beginning of the symposium, “One who lives in the rooms knows when it leaks; one who lives among the folks knows when the government policy is wrong.”
Xu Ningsheng, president of Fudan University and a representative of teachers, mentioned concerns in education circles: whether spending can still remain at 4 percent of GDP in the “new normal”, referring to slowing economic growth.
Premier Li responded: “I promise that the proportion will not change. The government will not cut educational inputs despite a slowdown in economic growth and a tight budget.”
When Xu suggested that the government give more support for technological innovation, Premier Li asked whether the number of students applying for the math major increased.
The Premier explained why he asked the question at the end of the symposium. “We should put more emphasis on fundamental research if we want original innovation. Nobody in China has ever won the International Medal for Outstanding Discoveries in Mathematics. The IT industry is developing fast, and source code requires mathematics. Why we are still buying engines abroad to build our own large civilian aircraft? Therefore, we need people who can truly devote themselves to a long-term career.”
Zhang Yaoxue, a computer science academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, suggested adding “ecology” to “innovation” in the Government Work Report.
The mention that “Health is the biggest happiness” in the Government Work Report drew a response from He Jie, an oncology academician at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. He advised that a national database of oncology cases be set up so that there is a clearer picture of the disease nationwide.
Referring to well-known participants at the symposium, the Premier said: “Mr Wang Meng used to be our country’s culture minister while (former basketball star) Yao Ming is an image ambassador of China. The films and dramas (of actor) Chen Daoming are not only popular in China, but also abroad.”
Also an established writer, Wang Meng said he hopes the Government Work Report to transmit cultural concepts to people in a way they can understand.
After the symposium, Premier Li shook hands with Yao Ming, who said that 2014 was an important year for sports reform, because the State Council released a document to develop sports into a major industry.
Actor Chen Daoming suggested that more works with healthy morality, rich history, and high aesthetics be created to better portray China to the world and reduce misunderstandings.
Chen also mentioned the lack of creativity in film and television works. He said he hopes that the government could learn from experiences abroad and provide more funds. “Quoting from what the Premier said in Davos, China’s films also need new penicillin,” said Chen.
Wang Ruixu, who graduated last year runs a 47-member startup, said he could set up his IT company because administrative procedures have greatly been eased.
Premier Li also listened to the story of Zhang Qingguo, a former resident of a shantytown in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, and asked some detailed questions.
Talking with Liu Tianhua, director-general of an agricultural cooperative in Henan province, the Premier said: “Food security is the core of national security which cannot be ignored.”
The Premier said the opinions from various representatives was inspiring and concluded with three points: First, it is the government’s responsibility to invest more on social undertakings; and efficiency of capital should be improved by marketization. Second is to build a good cultural ecology to avoid unnecessary costs. Third is to improve people’s lives, both materially and spiritually.
“In all, the government’s fundamental duty is to ensure people have a good life,” the Premier concluded.