China�s parliamentary body, the National People�s Congress (NPC), wrapped up annual meetings March 14 amid further top-level promises to tackle poverty and corruption, but with no response to calls for a change to the official verdict on the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown, RFA reports.

Around 3,000 delegates gathered at the Great Hall of the People passed a constitutional amendment protecting private property rights, in a major ideological shift wrought by necessity as the country struggles to move to a market economy.

Premier Wen Jiabao�who with President Hu Jintao is seeking to turn the grievances of ordinary people into his political territory�vowed to improve the lot of China�s 900 million rural residents and continue the fight against corruption in the Communist Party.

�It is my long-held view that the anti-corruption struggle is a major matter that has a bearing on the very survival of our party and our country,� Wen told a closing news conference in Beijing. �Chairman Mao admonished the entire party not to commit the mistake of becoming arrogant and adopting depraved lifestyles following our victory... There were some who failed that test.�

Wen said he could visualize some Chinese people �putting forward their requests and demands in sorrow.� But he gave short shrift to a question by a reporter from the official Xinhua news agency who asked his views on desperate people who petitioned Beijing leaders directly with grievances such as unpaid wages.

�Solving issues that affect the masses� fundamental interests is, fundamentally speaking, dependent on system, policies, and law. That�s all,� Wen said. Beijing police have cracked down harshly on petitioners and protesters during the NPC�s annual meeting, which ran from March 5-14 in the capital.

Wen also stopped short of addressing calls for a reappraisal of the mass protests of June 4, 1989, which were violently suppressed by People�s Liberation Army troops. But he avoided calling the movement a �counter-revolutionary rebellion,� as officials have labeled it, using an economic and pragmatic argument instead.

�At the end of the 1980s and in the beginning of the 1990s, China faced a serious political disturbance... At that critical moment, what hung in the balance was the destiny of our party and country,� Wen said in answer to a question about SARS whistleblower Jiang Yanyong, who called for a reassessment of the verdict in an open letter to China�s leader last week.

�Fifteen years have passed. During this time China has attained tremendous achievements in its reform, opening up, and socialist modernization drive. These achievements are self-evident to all. An important contributing factor is the fact that we have persistently safeguarded the unity of the whole party and safeguarded social and political stability in China,� he said. One woman who has pushed for the reassessment of the June 4 protests is Ding Zilin, who became a prominent activist against the Chinese government following the death of her son during the 1989 massacre.

�I had never held any hope that the issue of reevaluating the June 4 incident would be quickly resolved during the so-called �Hu-Wen New Administration.� � I think Wen Jiabao�s remarks yesterday about the June 4th massacre carried a milder tone and were not as reckless and unreasonable as that of Li Peng and Jiang Zemin. But it�s the same in nature. However, this should not impede people�s calls and demands to resolve the issue.�

Wen said the greatest difficulty the Party faced was related to China�s peasant population, millions of whom suffer grinding poverty and oppression at the hands of corrupt officials. �We should never forget about the potential for chaos,� he said.

�[Wen�s speech] was extremely disappointing,� Lin Mu, assistant to former Chinese Communist Party leader Hu Yaobang, told RFA. �He was not even evasive and vague in his remarks as some leaders have been. Rather, he was express and definite that the action [of the government on June 4] was sensible and meritorious.�

�In reality, he affirmed that the June 4 massacre was a great achievement. This indicates that his stance on this issue has not fundamentally changed. He stands in opposition with people on this fundamental issue,� Lin said.#####


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