Are of­fi­cials min­gling with the pub­lic or show­boat­ing?

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By XIN­HUA

High-rank­ing lo­cal of­fi­cials have hit the head­lines with their at­tempts at fru­gal­ity, but are th­ese real im­prove­ments to work styles or sim­ply pos­tur­ing?

In one case, a TV jour­nal­ist came across Wu Tian­jun, Party chief of Zhengzhou, cap­i­tal of Henan prov­ince, tak­ing the sub­way back to his of­fice on Mon­day af­ter a meet­ing.

Xu Jin from Zhengzhou TV told Xin­hua on Thurs­day that he watched Wu queue to buy a ticket then fol­lowed him as he boarded the train. Some cit­i­zens rec­og­nized Wu and chat­ted with him dur­ing his trip.

Wu told Xu his of­fice was near a sub­way sta­tion, so he took the sub­way back there.

In another case, Fu Zhenghua, vice-min­is­ter of pub­lic se­cu­rity and head of the Bei­jing Pub­lic Se­cu­rity Bureau, was seen pa­trolling with other of­fi­cers on a busy com­mer­cial street in down­town Bei­jing on Wed­nes­day evening.

This is not the first time that he has been seen on pa­trol in down­town Bei­jing.

“He of­ten vis­its po­lice sta­tions and meets pa­trolling po­lice of­fi­cers with­out in­form­ing them in ad­vance,” said a Bei­jing of­fi­cer who de­clined to be iden­ti­fied.

When they come to light, such “incog­nito” trips usu­ally be­come a fo­cus for dis­cus­sion among ne­ti­zens. Some say Wu’s story is too co­in­ci­den­tal to be true and claim the of­fi­cial did it sim­ply for show.

Oth­ers sup­port Wu and ex­pect more of­fi­cials to fol­low suit, not as a cost-cut­ting mea­sure, but as a way of mix­ing with the gen­eral pub­lic and hear­ing their views.

Xu in­sisted his sub­way jour­ney was not a stage-man­aged event, while the jour­nal­ist said he has been re­port­ing on the open­ing of the new sub­way line when he spot­ted Wu.

“Party mem­bers and of­fi­cials, while they are ser­vants of the pub­lic, are also mem­bers of the pub­lic,” said Wang Shushan, Party chief of Xuchang, Henan. “Lead­ing of­fi­cials should min­gle with the masses more of­ten, with­out ad­vance no­ti­fi­ca­tion, and lis­ten to their views to know

Lead­ing of­fi­cials should min­gle with the masses more of­ten, with­out ad­vance no­ti­fi­ca­tion, and lis­ten to their views to know the true sit­u­a­tion.” WANG SHUSHAN PARTY CHIEF OF XUCHANG IN HENAN PROV­INCE

the true sit­u­a­tion.”

This is one of the bet­ter tra­di­tions of our Party and we should ad­here to it, he said.

Po­lice chief Fu is not known as an of­fi­cial who stays cooped up in his of­fice. Ac­cord­ing to his of­fi­cers, he of­ten joins them on pa­trol.

First, it show­cases the im­por­tance of the cap­i­tal’s se­cu­rity work. Sec­ond, it can lead other se­nior of­fi­cials to change their work style, they say.

The Chi­nese lead­er­ship launched a “mass line” ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign last year to fur­ther ties be­tween Party mem­bers and the gen­eral pub­lic, clean­ing up work styles deemed un­de­sir­able, such as for­mal­ism, bu­reau­cratism, he­do­nism and ex­trav­a­gance.

Such jour­neys made by of­fi­cials are nor­mal and should be en­cour­aged so that the Party can build closer ties with the peo­ple, said Fang Ning from the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences.

Of­fi­cials should make use of ev­ery avail­able means to strengthen their re­la­tions with the pub­lic, he added.

“Un­doubt­edly, of­fi­cials should serve the peo­ple,” said Yan Jirong, a pro­fes­sor of pol­i­tics at Pek­ing Univer­sity. “There­fore, they should get out of their of­fices a lot and en­gage with the masses to un­der­stand their needs.”

Th­ese ex­cur­sions should not just be la­beled as ex­hi­bi­tions, said Yan. The key is to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween pub­lic­ity stunts and good gov­er­nance, he added.

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