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Star political advisers can offer real insights

By Sun Xiaochen | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-03-08 08:39

Though the celebrity status of some of the nation's political advisers puts the two sessions in the media spotlight, what will last longer and have more power to inspire are their thoughts and suggestions. That's my main takeaway, when reflecting on the influence of advisers, as I cover the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference for the fourth year.

Its members come from all walks of life, ranging from business tycoons to renowned scholars and even Olympic champions. All these notable figures assemble every March to discuss major issues regarding the country's social and economic development, and offer proposals and solutions.

Every year, before the opening meeting, the square outside the east gate of the Great Hall of the People is packed with reporters raising cameras, voice recorders and other multimedia gadgets as they crane their necks in the hope of catching a glimpse of a celebrity. This year has been more or less the same.

Star political advisers can offer real insights

Sun Xiaochen/China Daily

Five days after the opening meeting on Friday, I can still feel the bruise on my right shoulder from a horde of photographers barging past me to capture the towering frame of basketball icon Yao Ming-the tallest political adviser in the country.

Another adviser, former Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang, escaped the mob by sprinting past them all the way to the gate like he was approaching the finishing line in a race.

It's always good to attract attention when it comes to something important, but the personalities shouldn't be what is remembered, it should be what they say.

When it's time for the brainstorming to take place at the panel discussions later on, I always enjoy witnessing the tit-for-tat exchange of opinions among members after the celebrity buzz fades away.

This is when the star delegates get the chance to fulfill their political-adviser duties, despite their fame.

Some of their insights into their respective businesses, a product of profound thinking and specific suggestions, did surprise me. Yao was no exception.

At 2.26 meters tall, he becomes the center of attention whenever he walks into a room and is arguably one of the most-recognizable Chinese faces in the world. Yet his concerns and stark appraisal of the status of the nation's sports development were as eye-catching as his giant stature.

I still remember clearly how he began a one-on-one interview with me during the two sessions in 2015.

The former NBA All Star, who never grumbled about being fouled during his playing career, complained.

"This is a serious occasion. Our proposals and social issues should matter way more than who is the star," he said, referring to the excessive attention he was being given. The value of his thoughts was evident when the State Council issued a regulation in October 2014 based on one of his proposals, which ended the requirement for organizers of sporting events to obtain official approval and loosened State control of the sports market.

As the current crop of advisers' five-year terms come to an end this year, the composition of the CPPCC's National Committee is due for a reshuffle. I don't know whether Yao will sit for another five-year term, but I hope he will.

And I am expecting to welcome another group of high-profile and deep-thinking political advisers, who can live up to expectations commensurate with their fame and influence to help guide the country on the right track.

Contact the writer at sunxiaochen@chinadaily.com.cn

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