by Xinhua writers Miao Xiaojuan, Wang Cong
BEIJING, March 7 (Xinhua) -- It was 11:30 p.m. Sunday as 23-year-old Wang Shun, wearing a cheap suit, hauled a tank of restaurant leftovers onto his oil-stained three-wheel motor tricycle that gave off an unpleasant odor.
A native of Baoding in northern China's Hebei Province, Wang's job is to drive his motor tricycle to downtown Beijing every night and bring home leftovers collected from the city's restaurants to feed the pigs his family raises in the suburbs of Beijing.
As tiring and smelly as the job might be, Wang said he was rather content with his life.
Wang took up his father's driving and delivering "career" about seven years ago when he graduated from middle school.
"Back then, tricycles like mine were not allowed to enter Beijing. I would either face a large fine or have my tricycle towed away immediately whenever busted by the police," he said.
"But now the regulations are more relaxed. I can drive to the city every night I want. And sometimes when I now run into the police, they chat with me, ask me if I am tired or how many pigs my family raises, which gives me a really heart-warming feeling," Wang said.
"It is fair to say I am living with much greater convenience and dignity now, compared to a few years ago," he said.
Wang is no fan of newspapers and seldom watches TV news broadcasts, but his words about "dignity" coincided with a government work report submitted to China's top legislature, which opened its annual session here on Friday.
"Everything we do we do to ensure that people live a happier life with more dignity and make our society fairer and more harmonious," Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said when delivering the report to the National People's Congress.
"The Great Hall of the People burst into applauses upon Wen's remarks," said Prof. Chang Xiuze with the macroeconomics institute of the National Development and Reform Commission.
"People feel their expectations for reform have been answered by the government," he said.
"China used to put its focus on economic development in its reform plans in the past," Chang said.
"The promise of 'greater dignity' shows that the government is paying more attention to the development of Chinese citizens themselves now. It represented China's 'people-first' principle in the social and political arena," he said.
In fact, it was the third time in a month for the Premier to promise "greater dignity" for the Chinese on public occasions.
Addressing a gathering of more than 4,000 people from various sectors of society on Feb. 12, Wen said "all the things we do is aimed at letting people live more happily and with more dignity," as he offered them Spring Festival greetings.
On Feb. 27, the Premier again vowed to promote "greater dignity" of the people during an online dialogue with the Chinese public.
"Greater dignity" for the people is the basis for the protection of their full freedom and rights within the framework of the Constitution and laws, the Premier said.
Wen added that the country would meet the increasing material and cultural needs of the people and create favorable conditions for people's freedom and full development to nurture their intelligence and talent in order to safeguard the dignity of the people.
Of note, his promises of "dignity" have sparked heated discussions in China.
A Chinese netizen, who identified himself only as "freespace," said for him, maintaining dignity for the Chinese meant to provide adequate medical service for the sick, education for the young, and shelter for the needy.
"Dignity is to ensure the rural population live a well-off life, and to let the public know the names of coal mine workers who died at work, like those of police officers who died in peacekeeping operations in Haiti," he said.
For Hu Xiaoyan, China's first lawmaker elected from the country's 150-million migrant worker population, dignity meant to bridge the gap between the urban and rural areas, and enable all people to be treated with equality, she said.
Meanwhile, Chen Weiya, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, offered a different view of dignity.
The Chinese took dignity from their country's own strength, he said.
"For instance, in the Gulf of Aden, only with our own navy's escort could Chinese ships sail with dignity and safety," he said.
Bagatur, chairman of the regional government of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview Sunday that employment should be of top priority when maintaining dignity for the people.
"Inner Mongolia promised the people a well-off life when the autonomous region was founded. But despite the region's fast GDP growth, many of the people are still living under thatched roofs. They shouldn't," he said, "The government must solve this problem for them."
He said the core concept of Premier Wen's government work report this year was to take care of the quality of people's lives, which exactly serves the goal of providing people with more dignity.
Before rushing to the next restaurant at midnight on Sunday, Wang Shun told Xinhua of his understanding of a "dignified life."
"I guess it would be nice to have more money and buy a new vehicle so that I could drive in during daytime as well, not just at night," Wang said as he scratched his head through his oily hair.
"I like Beijing. People here are very nice and civilized. They would call me 'sir' when I ask them for directions," he said.
"I want to stay in Beijing, maybe start a business of my own some time later," he added. Enditem
(Xinhua correspondents Wang Pan and Lu Xueli also contributed to the story)