By Beth Main
In another Chinese-politician-visits-the-people move, Premier Wen Jiabao has made his third visit to Qinghai, a region in Western China bordering Tibet that was struck by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake in 2010.
He first visited the region the day after the earthquake struck and again about a month later. Two years down the line and he is back for a comeback tour. This latest visit was to Gyegu township and Damkar monastery, where he viewed post-quake reconstruction efforts.
On his visit to Damkar monastery he helpfully reminded everyone that “A monastery should be a clean and pure place where clergy abide by religious commandments and build a positive social image.” An image no doubt slurred by self-immolations in the area.
Wen is due to step down as Premier in March and is using these last months to leave a lasting image of an avuncular politician, many expect that Wen may visit more disaster-hit areas to emphasize his concern for the underprivileged. It is unfortunate that his family was recently investigated for their incredible wealth.
Political observer Zhang Lifan says: “Wen has not accomplished much through his economic policies and calls for political reform because he is restricted inside the [Communist] Party. Boosting his populist image seems to be the only thing he can do to make himself known.”
Li Keqiang will succeed Wen as Premier in March, observers do not expect much more success from him.