Chinese officials, who love to show off model communes, factories, and the like to visitors, have a small problem with their own premier. Now that he is installed in Peking, Premier Zhao Ziyang seems to be continuing a practice for which he became famous as provincial leader of Sichuan: doing things on the spur of the moment.
On a recent two-week survey of the provinces, he wouldn't tell regional leaders which villages he proposed to visit until the last minute. Moreover, he chose to travel in a minibus instead of a convoy of black limousines which would have tipped everyone off that a high official was coming.
Zhao is said to have chosen some of the poorest regions of the provinces concerned --Shantung, Hunan, and Hubei -- and to have been encouraged by the rise in living standards compared to previous visits.
There is general agreement that, in the midst of severe nationwide economic difficulties, agriculture remains a bright spot in China.