Ask Premier Li: China invites foreigners to give their views

Mr Li is preparing his annual work report for next year's meeting of China's Parliament.
Mr Li is preparing his annual work report for next year's meeting of China's Parliament.

BEIJING • China's central government has for the first time asked foreigners what they would like to ask Premier Li Keqiang as he prepares his annual work report for the meeting of the country's largely rubber-stamp Parliament next March.

Beijing has previously solicited questions from ordinary Chinese people for Mr Li, which can be submitted online, but is now unusually using English to offer foreigners the same opportunity.

"Are you living, working, studying, travelling in China or doing business with Chinese companies? Do you want to have your say about what is happening in China, how it is making government policies and how you are benefiting?" the government asks in an English statement on its website.

"Premier Li Keqiang wants to hear your views and include them in China's policymaking," it says, next to a cartoon picture of a smiling Mr Li.

"Individuals, businesses and other organisations with an interest in or expert knowledge on any issue can help shape the government work report in 2017. The Chinese government welcomes and appreciates your participation," the statement adds.

Underneath, foreigners are invited to offer comments on areas such as the environment, tax and "Internet integration".

A few comments, some apparently from foreigners judging by their names, are also shown, though nothing on sensitive issues like human rights or censorship.

"I hope the government could do more to curb pollution," writes someone identified as Adam.

"Cut more administrative fees and licences," says another person called Gary.

The announcement appeared on the website yesterday.

Big Chinese cities like Beijing and Shanghai have thriving foreigner communities, and the government is also trying to attract highly qualified foreigners to live longer term in China, especially those with science qualifications.

But it has run into problems, with the country's notorious smog and tight Internet controls putting some people off. The government has also had limited success introducing a US-like "green card" system allowing people to become permanent residents.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 21, 2016, with the headline 'Ask Premier Li: China invites foreigners to give their views'. Print Edition | Subscribe