Public's relationship with government 'strained'

Updated: 2013-01-01 02:49

By Yang Wanli (China Daily)

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Relations between the general public and the government remain strained, and the gap between rich and poor is widening, according to a new report on the development of Chinese society.

Based on a survey carried out by the Institute for Social Development within the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences during the first half of 2012, the report covered seven aspects of Chinese life, including public services and living quality.

The findings revealed that nearly 30 percent of the 6,000 interviewees nationwide said relations between residents and government officials were "bad".

Some 26 percent of respondents also said they believed employers had "bad" relations with their employees.

However, more people selected "bad" to describe the relations between rich and poor, with 50 percent of interviewees saying they thought the gap between the two groups had become serious during 2012.

"The figures indicate that these two examples of poor relations will affect overall social stability," said Li Hanlin, president of the institute.

He said he thought the report was a true reflection of China's social development.

"It is reasonable that some social relations are not fair or equal. And the unfair relations, to some extent, can help change social structures," he said.

"But if the condition becomes more severe and the strong get stronger while the weak get weaker, it will do harm to social stability."

To improve relations between the groups, Li said the government should help expand the country's middle-income population, and offer more social security and support to low-income earners.

The institute's report also suggested that the level of moral responsibility was dropping in some areas of Chinese society.

Fewer than 4 in every 100 people surveyed said they had a clear concept of what social morality meant, while more than half believed that nowadays China has no specific moral standards to be followed.

"Ideas of morality are influenced by religious beliefs. In our survey, fewer than 13 percent of people had religious beliefs and most of them were in the high-income group," said Wu Jianping, a professor with the China Institute of Industrial Relations, who also participated in the research.

The report also revealed that the Internet had significantly changed people's thinking and attitudes on certain questions, Wu said.

On the subject of morality, the survey showed that the more frequently a person used the Internet, the more negative his or her moral standards were.

The same was true for people's attitudes toward prosperity, the survey showed.

"It offers a good reminder to the government that the more people share information on the Web, the more they will be encouraged to participate in public affairs.

"It's a double-edged sword that needs to be well managed," he said.

Interviewees also gave high importance to public services. About half rated government emergency management and its fairness in dealing with public affairs as the "most important public services".

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