China's annual parliamentary
session, which concluded in Beijing on Friday, has featured more
attention to people's livelihood and showed novel signs of democracy, according
Being the fourth largest economy in the world, China has attracted global
interests at its "two sessions", or the once-a- year full conferences of the
National People's Congress (NPC), the parliament, and the National Committee of
the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory
The six-part government work report delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao at the
opening of the NPC session paid much attention to people's livelihood. "It is
obvious that the report is mainly about people's livelihood," said NPC deputy
Housing, education, health care, social security and other issues were hot
topics during the 14-day two sessions. Among the motions and proposals submitted
by lawmakers and advisors, those on people's livelihood accounted for a major
Press conferences held on the sidelines of the two sessions also involved
people's livelihood. Ma Kai, minister in charge of the National Development and
Reform Commission, and a number of high-ranking officials and CPPCC National
Committee members talked about health care reform, employment, social security
and challenges of a growing aging population.
China's top legislator Wu Bangguo said the NPC would intensify its
legislation focusing on social affairs this year.
"While continuing work to improve economic legislation, we must also
concentrate on strengthening legislation related to social programs to provide a
solid legal foundation for building a harmonious socialist society," Wu said.
"China is amid a transitional period with fast-growing economy and many
social problems. Now the focus on issues relating to people's lives indicates
that China has put all its strength in resolving problems accumulated, and moves
on the track of scientific and harmonious development," said NPC deputy Yang
"If there is an overall theme...it must be the challenge of making the
economy benefit the 1.3 billion Chinese," said an AFP report on March 11.
The two sessions this year lasted longer than those last year. "It was aimed
at more time for deputies and advisors to discuss the draft property law and the
draft enterprise income tax law," Yang said.
The draft property law with an unprecedented seven times of reading was
hailed as "a model of democratic and scientific legislation." During the draft's
formulation in the past 13 years, the NPC Standing Committee received more than
10,000 suggestions after the draft was publicized.
At the two sessions, lawmakers and advisors were eager to voice opinions on a
variety of issues, such as raising income for farmers, preparing for 2008
Olympics, and protecting animal rights.
Lawmaker Gao Zhiguo was happy to see that two pieces of his advice were
accepted in the revision of the government work report.
Disputes were not rare at the two sessions. Advisor Wu Jinglian, who is also
a noted economist, was often questioned after he had said that a price hike is
necessary during the spring peak travel season.
However, Wu insisted on his opinion, saying "as a political advisor I am not
afraid of being scolded, or I would rather resign. "
When Wu Yi, China's only female vice premier in the cabinet, joined lawmakers
from Zhejiang Province in a panel discussion on March 7, the lawmakers didn't
expect an apology from the "iron lady", who successfully steered China's
negotiations into the World Trade Organization.
"People are dissatisfied, and I feel guilty for that. I should apologize to
you," said silver-haired Wu for failing to check soaring medical expenses,
pledging to the lawmakers that the government would make utmost efforts to
tackle current problems.
She was followed by Education Ministry Zhou Ji, who apologized on March 9 for
the insufficient work of the ministry to provide an equal educational system.
The two sessions also made breakthroughs in transparency. It was the first
time that foreign journalists were allowed to contract NPC deputies directly and
attend some meetings of provincial delegations.
The hotels in which NPC deputies lived and the telephone numbers of liaison
persons were also made public.