China, where grievances are plenty, is reforming its petitioning system

Beijing says it is reforming its decades-old civil petitioning system so that grievances by members of the public can be better resolved.

Zhang Enxi, deputy director of the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, told a news conference Thursday that China will aim to refer more such complaints to the courts. He says the bureau is encouraging the public to file complaints over the Internet to boost transparency, while urging local officials to be more proactive in addressing them.

Under China's petitioning system, residents often go to Beijing to appeal directly to the central government over complaints in their local areas. However, the system is criticized as inefficient, and local officials often try to prevent petitioners from going to the capital, including by detaining them in illegal "black jails."