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China: local leaders must manage complaints better
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    BEIJING — China has told local government leaders to be more responsive to people’s complaints after several rural protests threatened to disturb the calm run-up to next month’s Olympic Games, a government notice said Wednesday.
    Officials should better resolve disputes and conflicts and proactively prevent mass events, according to a high-level meeting held in Jinan in Shandong province this week, a notice on the Ministry of Supervision’s Web site said.
    As Beijing enters the final stretch before the Aug. 8-24 Olympics, the government is trying to limit protests or complaints across the country that could embarrass the image of a modern nation.
    Two recent mass incidents have brought discontent with local officials in the countryside into the open. Last month, more than 30,000 people protested and torched a police station in a town in hilly Guizhou province over what they believed was a cover-up of a teenage girl’s death.
    And over the weekend hundreds of migrant workers attacked a police station in eastern Zhejiang province after one worker was allegedly beaten while trying to get a residence permit.
    The protests and China’s petition system, which allows people with unresolved local complaints to come to Beijing to ask for help, have been areas of concern for the government before the games.
    Petitioners coming to Beijing have been under a close watch, with police from the provinces lined up outside petition offices all day, sometimes sending them back home.
    China also faces a threat of protest from disgruntled laid-off teachers. Many of them are previous community teachers who went to rural areas in the 1960s and ’70s but are no longer needed by the Chinese government.
    A notice claiming to be from 150,000 laid-off teachers in five provinces Wednesday said they wanted to use the Olympics to draw attention to their case, although they did not intend to disrupt the games.
    Governments are already alerted to their case.
    A notice issued in late May on the education bureau Web site of Sanmenxia town in central Henan province said every department has the responsibility to prevent the teachers from organizing mass petitions to ‘‘ensure a smooth Olympics.’’
    Local Communist Party leaders around the country have been holding meetings this month in which they have been ordered to thoroughly deal with local disputes, Outlook Magazine, published by official Xinhua News Agency, said Monday.
    ‘‘Party secretaries at all local levels should take the lead in handling those key cases, and thoroughly get involved until it is completely resolved,’’ the magazine said citing a central government decision.

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