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Observers applaud unrivaled news access at two sessions

Li Xiaokun
Updated: Mar 14,2016 10:25 AM     China Daily

Foreign Minister Wang Yi takes questions from the press during a news conference on the sidelines of the two sessions on March 8. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

A wide spectrum of observers, from journalists to ordinary citizens, have commented on the unprecedented access granted at this year’s two sessions of China’s national advisory body and legislature.

Breakthroughs included Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s conference on March 8 - his longest since taking office, with 19 questions fielded over 2 hours - and the record 19 news conferences arranged on the sidelines, with guests such as newly-appointed China Securities Regulatory Commission Chairman Liu Shiyu.

More ministers also seemed willing to meet with the media on the approach path to the Great Hall of the People this year, with dozens of such interviews conducted as of March 13.

Ruan Huiling, media coordinator with the NPC Fujian delegation, said her colleagues had tried their best to work with reporters.

“We have given everything we had to media, from the room number of every delegate - including provincial leaders - to phone numbers of the whole working team and a full schedule,” she said, adding that all seven questions raised by media representatives from Hong Kong and Taiwan during the delegation’s open discussion on March 6 had been answered.

On the same day, the NPC Shanxi delegation took seven questions from the media during their open discussion, with five focusing on severe corruption cases.

Wang Rulin, top leader of the province, answered these questions and elaborated using three other local corruption cases, which soon grabbed headlines.

Chen Yanjun, information office spokeswoman for the Sichuan provincial government, said that after learning a reporter - Petra Kolonko, Beijing bureau chief of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - was interested in poverty alleviation in the province, an interview for her was arranged with the relevant deputies.

According to Zhu Shouchen, deputy director of the two sessions’ media center, around 3,200 journalists registered to cover the meetings this year, including about 360 from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and more than 1,000 foreign reporters.

Zhu said the media center had issued information through its website, while reporters registered for the National People’s Congress annual session could also get briefings of the delegation meetings and suggestions from NPC deputies online.

Nobuhiro Shima, a reporter from Tokyo Broadcasting System, was impressed by the press room and “signs that are in English to indicate the way to the hotels as well as to the venue”.

Meanwhile, Sjoerd den Daas, a journalist with Dutch Financial Daily, commented on how approachable everyone was.

For Zhu, who has worked at the media center for more than a decade, China “has become more transparent, and the information release system is more complete”.

“NPC deputies and CPPCC representatives are also more confident when facing the media,” he said.

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