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Beijing (AFP) Nov 12, 2013
China is separating local officials' performance assessments from the number of complaints against them so that they address issues rather than detain complainants, reports said, prompting praise in state-run media Tuesday.
For centuries ordinary Chinese have been able to use a system known as petitioning to bring unresolved local grievances to higher-ranking bodies, a right that has persisted into the Communist era.
But many local authorities, fearing low marks for eliciting a high number of complaints, ended up devoting significant resources to intercepting petitioners and holding them in unofficial "black jails".
"Not ranking different places according to the number of petitions will ease the pressure that officials face while handling them," a commentary in the Global Times said.
"They can shift their focus from 'numbers' and 'political performance' to actually solving people's real problems."
The petitioning system was "increasingly being considered a source of discontent", it acknowledged.
Authorities began rolling out the new policy after fresh leadership took the helm of the Communist party in November last year, the Beijing News reported on Monday.
"Getting rid of the ranking has really cut down on the pressure at work," it quoted an anonymous deputy chief of a provincial petition office as saying.
Lower-level governments had begun "to focus their energy on resolving local-level petitioning cases, rather than organising people to go to Beijing to intercept the petitioners", the report said.
From January to August this year the volume of petitions nationwide fell 2.5 percent, with subjects ranging from house demolitions to lack of environmental protection to court cases, the Beijing News said, citing official figures.
In a high-profile case last year Tang Hui, a mother from central Hunan province, was sentenced to a labour camp for petitioning repeatedly after her 11-year-old daughter was kidnapped and forced to work as a prostitute.
Tang had sought accountability for police officers that she said aided the culprits. She was freed after just over a week following a public outcry.
China News from SinoDaily.com
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