Last Monday, Premier Wen Jiabao paid a rare visit to the State Bureau for Letters and Calls — the government department where petitioners from all over the country go to air their grievances. It was the first time in 61 years a top government official has visited, leading many people to call it an “encouraging” effort to connect with the people. But by doing so, it seems Wen might have angered the head of the propaganda department.
Rumors circulating say that the propaganda department head slipped up by criticizing Premier Wen quite publicly.
According to the grapevine, the deputy head of the Central Propaganda Department said that Wen Jiabao “is anxious to see the world in disorder” and an demagogue; that for courting fame and making a gesture, Wen paid no heed to the circumstances and met with petitioners. He’s got a good reputation as the first premier ever to meet with petitioners in 61 years but has made Beijing very nervous. The only solution is to gag the press. Otherwise, after the Chinese New Year, petitioners from all over the country may flood into Beijing, an ill timing for the Two Sessions. [Note: March is often thought to be China’s political month as law makers and political advisers nationwide gather in Beijing for National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.] He went on to say that Wen Jiabao just wanted to make waves during the Two Sessions and during the final year and half in his political career.
Later, he reportedly felt bad about the gaffe and tried to make amends, but the official wasn’t only the one who was skeptical about Wen’s visit.
Petitioner Wu Wei, who has been petitioning the government about his house for three years said, “Those people Wen met don’t look like real petitioners and I simply don’t think it is possible for Wen to meet people like us…What he did is just for show, which will not do any help to alleviate our sufferings.”