A Magic Wand against Corruption and Inefficiency?

Another scientific concept has taken shape this week in the media: opinion polls “from central government departments to grass-root villages”.

As good as the news may sound, no legislative or organizational step can improve real life as long as there is no rule of law, and if respondents to polls can’t be sure that their privacy will always be protected. Those who carry out the polls are not independent of the party – according to an article by Liu Junning (刘军宁), conducting the annual polls will be the job of the State Statistics Bureau. Last year’s property law  hasn’t become a guarantee for the rights of small owners either. Apparently, legal rights are only effective when people have the personal connections and influence of to defend them. Location and timing can become important factors, too.

Do China’s leaders really want to know the mood of their people, and correct obvious flaws or crimes in the work of local cadres? If so, they could have started reading – and acting upon – petitions that have traditionally come to Beijing from all over the country, all the time. If they don’t do that, there is some reason to suspect that the polls taken will end up in the same dustbins as, apparently, most of the petitions.

But only time will show.

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