Serious topics dominate two sessions news

By Sun Xiaobo Source:Global Times Published: 2016-3-20 22:23:01

The two sessions are the biggest annual political events in China. However, what often grabs attention during the meeting period is not the serious proposals and bills made by the members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC), but attending celebrities, beauties among reporters and interpreters, the eye-catching apparel of participants and grandstanding remarks. The events sometimes appear to be a huge media circus instead of political occasions essential to the country's development.

This year when I stood on the square in front of the Great Hall of the People right before the opening ceremony of the fourth plenary session of the 12th CPPCC National Committee, my fellow journalists quickly picked the best locations and set up their cameras and tripods. They immediately recognized and surrounded the familiar faces of CPPCC members including film and sports stars as the celebrities showed up.

Meanwhile, on the square, many more CPPCC members without well-known faces just walked past the crowds, up the steps and into the hall, scarcely noticed. Yep, stars outshine others everywhere, I thought.

But things turned out to be different thereafter. When I browsed news websites every day, reports on nuisances and clichés of celebrities and striking remarks seldom came up.

What filled up the Internet were proposals to address major concerns of society and interviews digging into the important issues.  My fellow journalists often discussed through WeChat who to talk with concerning issues like supply-side reform and China's stock market, not which stars they had a picture with.

It's understandable that when over 2,000 CPPCC members walk through the square in less an hour, an easy way to secure an interviewee is to identify those recognizable faces and talked with them. But when reporters are given more space and time later, they clearly have a better idea of what to look for.

The popular figures during this year's two sessions were not any stars, but outspoken CPPCC members and NPC deputies that came up with reasonable and research-based suggestions to address the real concerns of the people they speak for.

Zhu Zhengfu, a lawyer and CPPCC member, immediately became famous after he questioned the controversial TV confession by suspects and gave nine proposals to promote China's rule of law. In the group conference, there were often reporters waiting for Zhu to answer more questions about the rule of law in China.  

At the same time, the stars also tried to keep a low profile. When they were surrounded by reporters, they mostly chose to just talk about their own proposals and avoided taking pictures with fans among the reporters.

I was impressed that in a group meeting of ethnic minority members of the CPPCC, a famous singer Tengger just sat quietly listening to the discussions, while none of the reporters around asked to take a picture with him. They just focused on more serious things that matter to the country.

That's the way the two sessions are supposed to be. Each participant is obliged to find out the problems of the country, come up with workable suggestions, and tell the general public whether and how their concerns will be addressed. They need to be aware of their role to play.

Besides, senior officials are learning to face up to concerns by the media and people instead of evading their questions.

Many ministers answered sharp questions when they were surrounded by the reporters on their way to the conference venues. Heads of cities where holiday scams happened admitted their deficiencies and vowed to prevent similar things from happening again.

Although some officials still perform poorly and stiffly in front of the media, many improvements are taking place.

China now stands at a critical crossroads and has many pressing issues to be dealt with. As 1.3 billion people closely watch the thousands of deputies and members gather in Beijing, they need to be assured that their concerns are being taken care of, and the country is marching toward a bright direction.

To this end, everyone at the two sessions needs to shoulder their due responsibility.    

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.

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