by Xinhua writers Xiong Zhengyan, Wang Yaguang
BEIJING, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Tales are usually told as entertainment, but sometimes they act as catalysts for change. In China, the world's third largest economy, story tales have led to national policy changes.
During his first one-on-one interview with Xinhua News Agency on Sunday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told several personal stories that helped his cabinet formulate the country's policies to tackle the global financial crisis and other issues.
PIG RAISER'S WISH
"Whenever reminded of migrant workers, I have an unspeakable feeling," Wen said, recalling a recent letter from Xiong Deming, a 48-year-old ordinary female farmer he encountered back to late 2003.
Xiong Deming was returning from a day tending cabbage patch, her hands caked with soil, when she learned Wen was visiting her village, one stop of Wen's inspection to the southwestern Chongqing Municipality.
Xiong rushed to her neighbor's courtyard and approached Premier for help to recover money owed to her husband by a construction company. Six hours after Wen left, Xiong was handed by local officials the long overdue wage -- 2,300 yuan (about 336.7 U.S. dollars) in cash.
In her recent letter, Xiong told Premier she now raised 278 pigs. Wen said: "Xiong said her wish was that all Chinese people can have quality pork to eat."
Rather than addressing specific problems like wage recovery, Wen said he is more focused on studying deep-rooted problems to improve the livelihood of around 200 million migrant workers throughout China, including Xiong's husband.
He said China would steadily reform its decades-long household registration system, in a bid to ensure migrant workers have the same rights as city dwellers.
Wen also introduced the pilot program of rural pension insurance. "Farmers aged over 60 could get 55 yuan a month. It is not a big sum, but it begins a new era."
Internet is sometimes a tool for Chinese netizens to vent grumbles, which Premier Wen said he was quite aware of.
"I know netizens are concerned about the housing price," Wen responded to a netizen Deep White's question of how home price could increase by 1,000 yuan per square meter in a month.
"When surfing the internet every day, I read netizens' comments on the issue, including some harsh criticisms," Wen said.
As the country's real estate market recovers, housing prices in some cities are soaring, which the central government are highly concerned, Wen admitted.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, housing prices in 70 major Chinese cities rose 5.7 percent year-on-year in November, continuing an escalation which has triggered new concerns over property speculation in the country.
It should take both government policies and market regulation to promote the healthy development of real estate market, Wen said.
The government would enhance the construction of affordable houses and speed up renovation of "shanty towns" by providing financial support and favorable policies, he said.
The government would also crack down on property developers, who seized land without developing it, hoarded houses and jacked up prices, the premier promised.
INTERNET OF THINGS
Internet has not been new to Premier Wen, but Internet of Things was.
"This concept first came to my mind when I talked with a group of young researchers who returned to China after their overseas studies," Wen said, referring to those he met during his inspection tour to east China's Jiangsu Province in November.
"I learned Internet of Things is a network that can be applied to infrastructure and services. The program will have a rosy prospect," Wen said.
According to Internet of Things, when objects ranging from books to airplanes are equipped with minuscule identifying devices, they can be identified and managed through computer networks.
Internet of Things was one example Premier Wen cited while outlining the country's initiatives to foster new growth areas, especially in emerging strategic industries.
Wen said financial crisis in history always brought about technological revolution. "The key to conquer the global economic crisis lies in people's wisdom and the power of science and technology," he said.
Wen did not elaborate on "emerging strategic industries" but said that the country should continue to give full play to its advantage in the manufacturing sector, while strive to develop important areas related to environment and people's living.
Efforts should be made to develop Internet, green economy, low-carbon economy, environment protection technology and biomedicine, he said.
MESSAGE FROM TEXTILE MILL
Walking through lines of humming machines, Premier Wen could not figure out the real performance of the textile factory in eastern city of Wuxi in July last year.
He then decided to have a face-to-face talk with the factory owner in his office.
"Premier Wen, do you want to hear the truth or just some usual courtesy words?" the factory head asked.
"I want the truth," Wen said, only to find the mill was falling victim to the global financial crisis.
In another inspection tour to Dongguan, a manufacturing base in south China, in November last year, Premier Wen was shocked to find that one of China's biggest container manufacturer did not have even one order.
Tours to these factories sent one common message: the global financial crisis had started to take its toll on China's export-oriented businesses in the coastal areas, Wen said.
"After the investigations, the government changed the pre-set economic policies in the second half of last year: we lowered the reserve ratio and interest rate, and raise export rebate rate," the premier said.
36 INSPECTION TOURS TO 20 PROVINCES
Since June 2008, Wen had made 36 inspection tours to more than 20 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities (out of the 31total on the Chinese mainland).
"I went there to mainly do three things: send the message of confidence, learn about the real situation, and search for policy solutions," Wen said.
Based on the inspection tours and investigations, the central government subsequently unveiled a string of measures to help the economy counter global financial crisis, including the 4-trillion-yuan (585.6 billion U.S. dollars) economic stimulus package, support plans for 10 key industries and subsidizing home appliances program in rural areas.
These measures, along with improvements in global economy, helped the world's third largest economy approach its pre-crisis growth level.
China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 8.9 percent year on year in the third quarter, accelerating from 7.9 percent in the second quarter and 6.1 percent in the first. In the third quarter of last year, the GDP was up 9 percent from a year earlier.
Despite the bumpy road ahead, "China has a great deal of hope in its future," Wen said when asked to give his New Year message to all the Chinese people.
Special Report: Premier Wen Jiabao Gives Exclusive Interview with Xinhua News Agency