Food safety top concern in new poll

By Liu Chang and Yang Jinghao Source:Global Times Published: 2013-3-17 22:55:00

An overwhelming majority of respondents in a recent poll expressed their confidence in the country's future in the wake of the just-ended "two sessions" but food safety topped popular concerns following the institutional restructuring.

Among the 1,103 respondents in the telephone poll, 36.6 percent summarized the "two sessions" of this year as chiefly concerned with "living conditions," 28.7 percent believed "leadership reshuffle" was the priority, and 25.2 percent emphasized "reform," according to the survey conducted by the Global Poll Center under the Global Times covering the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xi'an, Changsha and Shengyang.

The State Council's institutional restructuring and transformation of government functions attracted massive public attention and prompted heated discussions after the plan was unveiled. The reform brought down the number of ministries from 27 to 25.

When asked, 52.7 percent of the interviewees believed it was a "moderate" reform that calls for greater efforts on subsequent implementation, while 22.2 percent thought the change was "inadequate" as reforms on the National Development and Reform Commission and financial institutions did not take place as expected. Meanwhile, only 20.5 percent described the reform as "powerful."

The pressing issue of food safety tops the public agenda, the poll showed. More than 57 percent of the respondents expressed their concerns on whether the newly established State Food and Drug Administration could effectively address the long-standing problem in the scandal-ridden area.

Followed the issue was the nation's sovereignty issues, with 18.8 percent concerned about whether the newly restructured State Oceanic Administration would be able to better safeguard the national interests in disputed areas including the Diaoyu Islands and Huangyan Island backed by a new maritime law enforcement force.

After the national population and family planning policy commission was merged with the health ministry, the public has been speculating whether the three-decade long limits on the number of children will be loosened. For 8.2 percent of respondents, this was their top issue, while 7.4 percent fixed their attention on the possible rise in price of future railway tickets after the railway ministry was dismantled.

Given a choice of positive opinions about the recently concluded two sessions, the simple and frugal style was highlighted by 46.7 of interviews, while 44.5 percent were more impressed with the relative lack of empty talk and political jargon.

While being asked about their confidence in China's future development, 32.3 percent said they became "more confident" after the sessions and 55.2 said they were "fairly confident." Only 9.6 percent expressed pessimism and 2.9 percent believed it was hard to say.

Yan Jirong, a professor of government management at the Peking University, told the Global Times Sunday that the topics most associated with public interest always grabbed the widest attention.

"About 60 percent said they care about the food safety issue, that's because it not only matters to their interests, but also matters to their lives," said Yan, noting that the government should pay more attention to the minority that are not confident in the country's future.

Dai Yanjun, a professor at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said regarding the effects of the ministry reform, the subsequent implementation and increasing transparency are very important in addressing public concerns.


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