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Chinese premier chats with locals on radio, reaching remote regions

BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Cerinchungcuo, a Tibetan teacher from northwest China's Qinghai Province, called in and talked on radio to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao -- expressing his worries about the soaring price of coal.

A week ahead of New Year, the premier chatted with residents from three places in the less-developed west of China hit by natural disasters over the past few years, in a live broadcast by China National Radio (CNR) on Sunday morning.

Cerinchungcuo 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.

Wen asked whether people in Yushu had any problems in their daily life.

"The coal is very expensive now. Last year a tonne of coal cost about 800 yuan (119 U.S. dollars) but this year it is more than 1,000 yuan," Cerinchungcuo 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."

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

Cerinchungcuo, working at a local primary school, also told the premier they had plenty of food and clothes and the children had all returned to the school.

"We have made up for the classes delayed by the earthquake," he said.

The rehabilitation work in Yushu was suspended in late October because of freezing weather in the region which sits at an average altitude of 4,000 meters.

"The weather and high altitude in the mountainous region are the biggest challenge to rebuilding houses. But we will work hard to rebuild a safe and good home town for you," Wen said.

In the CNR live broadcast, Wen talked to listeners nationwide.

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

The country now has 251 radio stations. CNR, China's only national radio network, has an audience of 700 million.

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