Can I interview you? First, who are you?

By Cui Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-10 08:11
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Knowing who's who is a huge challenge for reporters following the NPC. The delegate who walks past you might be a mayor or a general. You don't know, because all you have to go on is the information on their ID cards - their names and which delegation they belong to. It is not enough.

"He looks important. Let's go interview him," a reporter said to one of his colleagues. They approach the delegate. "Excuse me, do you have a few minutes for a quick interview? And who are you?"

Don't laugh, it happens all the time and it works, because the delegates understand it is impossible for all of the reporters to know his or her identity. So you just might catch a big fish there by casting your line.

Another easier choice is to follow the delegates who are being chased by a pack of other reporters, but you have to be careful not to get stepped on in the process. I really wish we were equipped with some kind of a scanner, with which we could get their details as they walk past.

I am assigned to follow the delegation from Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, as I've been stationed there since last November.

The one place I believe will be the easiest to meet and talk to the delegates from Xinjiang is outside the canteen at the hotel where they are staying, because I have found they are more relaxed after meals.

I approached them with my questions as they walked out of the canteen and was prepared for them to say "No", because I've sent interview requests to some of them in Xinjiang and still have yet to receive replies.

To my surprise, most of them said they were happy to answer my questions. They were very pleasant to speak with, so different from the impression they generally give to people.

I noticed that some local officials have become easier to approach and more relaxed when they attend the NPC meetings in Beijing.

I asked one of them why this was so. He said he is in Beijing not as an official, but simply as a deputy of the people's congress who is here to air his views, whereas back at home he is more of an official.

Well, in my opinion, whether one is an official or a deputy of the NPC, they should have the same responsibility to inform the public of their work.

While reporters learn how to deal with officials, they should learn how to improve their communication with us.