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107 17 The Research Office of the City Government Should Become the Mayor’s Brain Trust1 June 15, 1988 The caliber of the staff at the city government’s research office is quite good. You’re in your prime and very capable, and the areas of your expertise also make quite a lot of sense [for the work you’re doing.] A considerable number of you studied economics, and quite a few majored in Chinese; some studied technology, but there aren’t enough of those. That’s all right: you’re young and eager to learn. By studying more and gaining more experience, you can become well-rounded talents. The city government research office should become the mayor’s brain trust. It should serve the mayor and provide all types of information and policy options relevant to the mayor’s decisionmaking. That is what Mayor Li Ruihuan of Tianjin did: he has a team of over 20 people who do research all day. That’s the kind of agency I want, one that studies the various issues the mayor needs to think about and decide upon. Of course there are some questions I haven’t thought of. You can raise these with me and you can investigate them if I approve. The research office should have three functions: information input, information processing, and information output. 1. Information Input At present we have to deal with vast quantities of information from inside and outside the country, inside and outside the city, and inside and outside the government . Besides participating in all sorts of activities every day, I have to read a great many documents, other materials, and letters from the people, and have to digest volumes of information. Without intelligence and information, I can’t survive and will be unable to make correct decisions. However, my greatest headache is not having enough time for this task. There are many long articles and essays I don’t have time to read. You can help me by reading, by providing 1. These are Zhu Rongji’s main remarks at a meeting of the Party branch of the city government ’s research office. Zhu_Shanghai Years_1987-1991_hc_9780815731399_i-xii_1-620.indd 107 12/26/17 12:00 PM 108 The Research Office of the City Government Should Become the Mayor’s Brain Trust me with all sorts of useful perspectives and information—that would be the greatest help to me. If you read a book, condense its main ideas into a very short essay so that by reading that I will have essentially read the book. Of course it won’t be easy to sort everything out well. According to my line of thought, you should collect and organize perspectives on various types of information that you think deserve attention from the mayor, including information from economic and business circles in China and other countries, from government agencies, and from the general populace—that would be a great help to me. Collect and store the information: this office should order many periodicals, it should have all the major domestic and foreign periodicals. 2. Information Processing The information you provide should be processed information. Currently, “Shanghai Briefing”2 is primary unprocessed information that contains too few “nutrients.” You should also offer some ideas for decisionmaking. That is, you should frequently engage in discussions on some major issues, coming up with new ideas through brainstorming, through mutual arguments, and mutual inspiration. Take the question of whether poultry prices should be increased. I visited Qingpu last Saturday and had discussions with county officials—it was very illuminating. At the top levels, what we hear is that prices must be increased because otherwise producers would have no motivation and there’d soon be no poultry. But the unanimous opinion of the county officials was that prices should not be increased, that current purchase prices are already high enough to encourage the farmers to produce. It’s also helpful for promoting production if poultry is a bit less expensive and demand is great. Moreover, the grain conversion rate of poultry is quite high: 2 jin3 of grain can produce 1 jin of poultry meat, whereas it takes 5 jin of grain to produce 1 jin of pork. It’s very economical to change the composition of our food by eating more poultry. In thinking about finance and trade, we cannot limit ourselves to the old way of raising prices when goods are in short supply and lowering them when goods are...


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