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China’s ‘two sessions’ draw over 3,000 journalists

Updated: Mar 2,2017 5:40 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — Media Center Hotel in Beijing has been unusually busy since March 2 as Chinese and foreign journalists gather there to report on the “two sessions.”

The Fifth Session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) is scheduled to begin March 5, and the Fifth Session of the 12th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) is scheduled to start March 3.

Located in west Beijing, Media Center Hotel has served as the press center for the two sessions since 2008. Journalists arrived at the hotel before the opening of the annual political meetings to get press cards and prepare for reporting.

This year’s meetings received over 3,000 journalist applications, including 1,250 from foreign journalists, 200 more than last year, according to the press center.

Before the opening of the two sessions, the press center invited foreign journalists to discuss issues of public concern and their reporting requests and interests.

The center holds a number of press conferences during the two sessions each year. Network service is available for journalists inside the building.

This is the first year Brian Kopczynski of France 24 has reported from the two sessions.

“The sessions are China’s most important political events each year,” Kopczynski said in Chinese. “I’m going to report on the government’s new policies and decisions.”

The military budget is a key topic for Kopczynski. This year marks the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Information on China’s defense budget will be released during the sessions.

Zheng Hailong, senior reporter from Hong Kong-based Ming Pao Newspapers Limited, came to Beijing to report on the two sessions for the second time.

“The press center provides good service to journalists,” Zheng said. “It’s convenient for us to apply online for interviews.”

His eight-person team hopes to do some in-depth reporting on environmental governance and poverty alleviation.

This year is key for implementing the 13th five-year plan, a road map for the nation’s development from 2016 to 2020.

China’s macroeconomic conditions, supply-side structural reform, the RMB exchange rate, housing market, and stock market rank high on the list of important issues for the press.

Zhanna, a reporter with Russia Today, plans to report on updated news about China’s growth target.

As the world’s second-largest economy, China’s GDP growth rate is always a key topic during the two sessions.

The country reported 6.7-percent GDP growth in 2016, the lowest level in nearly three decades, but likely to top all other major economies.

China is aiming for average annual growth of more than 6.5 percent from 2016 to 2020.

Daphne Lo, principal reporter with PCCW Media Limited in Hong Kong, expects to report on Hong Kong maintaining its status as an international financial center and its involvement in the Belt and Road Initiative, which has gained the participation of people across China and dozens of countries and regions.

Lu Yu, vice president of Sino-US Times, reports on diplomatic news. He is interested in Sino-US relations under the administration of US President Donald Trump.

“Cooperation benefits both countries while confrontation can only hurt,” Lu said.

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