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Premier Chats on Radio with Survivors of Natural Disasters

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Cerin Chungcuo, a Tibetan teacher from Qinghai Province, called in to a radio talk show and told Premier Wen Jiabao about her concerns over the soaring price of coal.

"Coal is very expensive now. Last year a ton of coal cost about 800 yuan (US$120) but this year it is more than 1,000 yuan," she said. "As it is very cold in Yushu and we depend on coal for heating, it will cost a family more than 8,000 yuan for the winter."

Cerin Chungcuo was calling from a tent in a temporary housing site of Gyegu town in Yushu, Qinghai province, which was jolted by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake on April 14, leaving about 2,200 people dead.

The premier chatted with residents from places hit by serious natural disasters in a live broadcast by China National Radio (CNR) on Sunday morning.

"I'll ask the provincial government to increase financial assistance to Yushu and give local people subsidies to offset the soaring price of daily necessities," Wen answered.

"Radio can not only let the people hear the voice of the Party and government directly but also instantly deliver people's requests, expectations and opinions to the Party and government," he said.

CNR, China's only national radio network with an audience of 700 million, celebrated its 70th anniversary on Dec 17.

Experts said the Communist Party of China has a long tradition of using radio to cover the country's vast territory and it is still one of the most useful means despite the emergence of the Internet.

Yin Hong, deputy dean of the School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University, said that in a vast country like China with great diversity, some places still do not have the access to Internet or television, and do not even receive newspapers.

"Radio plays a very important role in less developed regions where infrastructure lags behind," he said.

In recent years, President Hu Jintao and Wen have chatted with citizens online. The Internet audience - more educated and urban - is different from that of radio, Yin said.

"Senior leaders have realized they need to reach different audiences through different media. Today, through radio, they want to communicate directly with people in remote and less developed regions," he said.

The other two people Wen chatted with over the radio were from Qingchuan county of Sichuan province, which was hit hard by the 8.0-magnitude quake on May 12, 2008, and Zhouqu county of Gansu province, which was hit by a deadly landslide this August.

(Xinhua News Agency December 27, 2010)

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