Premier Wen talks with workers on Labor Day

HANGZHOU -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited factories, construction sites and the waterfront in eastern Chinese city of Ningbo on Thursday, talking with ordinary working people as he usually did on Labor Day.

This time, Wen traveled to the eastern coastal Zhejiang Province, an economic powerhouse adjacent to Shanghai.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao waves to workers as he visits eastern Chinese city of Ningbo on Thursday on Labor Day May 1, 2008. [Xinhua]

In the Youngor Group, one of China's leading clothes manufacturers, Wen exchanged views on shirt marketing with supervisor Li Xiudong. "How do you contribute to address the current hardship?" Wen asked after knowing soaring costs had greatly affected the export-oriented company.

"The first resort is innovation of products," Li said. "We should also optimize resource allocation from the very beginning of our manufacturing chain to marketing and to customer responsiveness."

Wen asked a few workers about their insurance and social welfare. Du Qinfang told him the company had offered her a complete benefit package, including pension, health insurance and unemployment funds.

He also visited the home of a retired role model, engineer Wang Zhongwen. After making substantive innovations on chemical fiber technologies, Wang retired in 1996. He told the premier he was satisfied with his pension.

"In 1996, I could only get 700 yuan (US$100) each month, but now I can get as much as 1,700 yuan due to the government-backed subsidies on pension funds."

Wen said the government would further increase investment this year on the pension funds.

He also visited a primary school teacher. "I am fully aware how demanding the teaching career is because I myself grew up in a teacher's family," Wen said.

"I always thought of improving the quality of education in recent years and we'd better pour more resources into education."

Wen also visited the newly-built 36-kilometer bridge spanning Hangzhou Bay, which was unveiled on Thursday afternoon to become the world's longest cross-sea bridge. He shook hands with hundreds of on-site workers, honoring their endeavors to build the jumbo span.

On the container pier at Ningbo Harbor, the largest in East China, Wen had a simple lunch together with pier workers before suggesting to take a group picture.

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