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March 10, 2010

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Serving people through good government

XIE Lijuan, former vice chairperson of the Central Committee of the Jiu San Society, former vice mayor of Shanghai and former chairperson of the Shanghai Committee of the Jiu San Society.

Almost 30 years have passed since I joined the Jiu San Society in 1981. In that time, I experienced the evolution of the multi-party cooperation cause. A physician by training, I was elected by the Shanghai People's Congress three times in a row. I served as vice mayor of Shanghai between July 1985 and June 1996. My experience with this position highlighted the status and functions of democratic parties in China's political life.

During 11 years as vice mayor, I had the opportunity to work with municipal leaders like Jiang Zemin, Zhu Rongji, Huang Ju and Xu Kuangdi, who fully supported my work. Today I can still recall Jiang Zemin's words when he presided over a vice mayors' meeting. He said all vice mayors are responsible for their allotted work, making no distinction between CPC and democratic party members.

As a democratic party member and the vice mayor in charge of education, sanitation and civil affairs, I would have failed the administration, the people and myself if I had hesitated to make decisions for fear of making mistakes. I firmly believed that although I was not a member of the ruling Party, as long as I devoted myself to public service and braced myself for challenges, I could definitely help the people.

In 1994 I pressed for Shanghai to improve the housing for its own teachers, from less than 4 square meters per person. With my constant efforts, the new housing program was finally approved.

By 1984 all nurseries and kindergartens in China were desperately overcrowded and parents were desperate. As deputy director of Luwan District, I made preschool a priority. Nurseries and kindergartens were required to increase enrollment, and enterprises, local communities, colleges and hospitals were required to provide their own nurseries. I made it clear that if those in charge of the mission failed, "they would give up their own kids' enrollment openings."

Primary schools were also terribly overcrowded and in 1988 I urged full-time schooling and an end to double and triple shifts. I successfully argued for increase in class numbers, restoration and expansionof buildings and construction ofnew classrooms.

In 1996, I retired from municipal government at the age of 60 and started working at the Municipal Committee of the CPPCC.

I used to be a doctor and so when SARS broke out in 2003, I realized hygiene problems in poultry raising could trigger epidemics like the avian flu.

Acting on my proposal, the CPPCC and Jiu San Society proposed closing all live poultry business downtown. The government agreed.

In 2004 the housing situation worsened. I pushed for affordable housing, including more supply, more leasing and help for low-income families.

I believe that insistence on multi-party cooperation is sure to be conducive to democratic politics and that China will scale new heights in every aspect of its affairs.


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