Reporter Log

A laid-back Li closes the two sessions, but the work's not over

By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)
Updated: 2014-03-14 09:50

A laid-back Li closes the two sessions, but the work's not over

China Daily journalist Zhao Yinan poses a question to Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday. Feng Yongbin / China Daily

Much has been said about the premier's news conference, but not so much about Li Keqiang's leisurely manner in dealing with media this year compared with last year.

During Thursday's news conference, some were moved as the premier promised to not give up the rescue mission for the missing Malaysian jetliner. Others were eager to read between the lines when he was about to disclose the slowest economic growth that the leadership can tolerate. I was more impressed by his confidence and straightforwardness as the leader of the event, whose aura dominated the Great Hall of the People's Golden Hall from the beginning to the end.

At the stroke of 10:30 am, Li, for the second time after being elected as premier, briskly stepped into the iconic political building while waving to the crowd of about 800 reporters.

As he stepped onto the podium, he kept his hand up in the air for quite a while, turning his body from left to right, and left again - showing attentiveness to the photographers' photo requests - and then, he took his seat.

"Friends from the press, I want to thank you for your interest in the coverage of the NPC and the CPPCC sessions. My appreciation goes to all of you for your hard work. Now, I would be happy to take your questions."

I said to myself, "Those must be the briefest opening remarks for a premier's news conference I've ever heard", and then I hastily raised my hand to pose a question.

A laid-back Li closes the two sessions, but the work's not over 

But the moment was over: Jaime FlorCruz from CNN's Beijing bureau was quicker than I was.

My disappointment in failing to pose the first question was quickly diluted by Li's ease and humor. The solemn atmosphere in the Golden Hall was broken when Li commended three foreign journalists for their Mandarin.

"I truly admire all these resident journalists of foreign media organizations in China for speaking Chinese so well," Li said.

"The premier sounds pretty relaxed today," a reporter sitting behind me murmured.

Indeed. And he had a good reason for his light mood. Minutes before this news conference, the report on the work of the government, which details his work in the first year and maps out outlooks this year, won 99.2 percent support at the closing meeting of the NPC session. It was the highest approval rating in five years.

The light and brisk mood continued throughout the 100-minute news conference. When the premier stood up and was about to leave, reporters were still eager to pose questions, and - to many people's surprise - the premier was not hesitant to take them.

"We will continue the efforts on whatever benefits Hong Kong's prosperity. We did it in the past, and we will carry on in the future," Li assured a Hong Kong reporter when he was about to leave the Golden Hall.

As he waved and walked out of my sight, I knew the curtain had been drawn on this year's two sessions. But the work is never-ending.

Budgets approved, missions assigned and pledges made. Now, it's time for work again.