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Armed policemen on duty in front of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday. Liu Haishan / for China Daily
Two reporters from Cuba select free books at the media center for the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on Thursday. Feng Yongbin / China Daily
The number of overseas reporters registered to cover the upcoming 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has seen a remarkable increase over the previous congress, showing the world's rising attention to a rapidly changing China.
Although there was still more than one day to go until the registration deadline on Friday night, the number of overseas journalists registered by Thursday noon had surpassed the number for the last Party congress by a big margin, Zhai Huisheng, director of the media center of the congress, told China Daily on Thursday afternoon.
He would not disclose the exact number, but said that the figure is still rising.
About 1,200 overseas reporters registered to cover the 17th CPC National Congress in 2007.
Zhai said overseas reporters this year are from more media organizations, many of them from developing economies.
"Many reporters are not based in China and they come here for the congress," he said. "It shows the huge attention of the international community to the congress."
At a meeting on Sept 28, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee proposed convening the 18th CPC National Congress on Nov 8 in Beijing.
To prepare for the congress, the seventh plenary session of the 17th CPC Central Committee opened in Beijing on Thursday.
Thursday also marked the official opening of the congress's media center in Beijing Media Center Hotel.
Zhai said that the center would arrange news conferences, group interviews, online talks or reporting tours every day before and during the congress, all on major issues.
During the 16th CPC National Congress in 2002, only two reporting tours were held and four were arranged during the 17th Party congress in 2007.
This year, dozens of reporting tours will be arranged for registered overseas reporters to different areas and industries in Beijing, nearby Hebei province and Tianjin municipality, Zhu Shouchen, deputy director of the media center, said on Thursday.
Since Thursday, reporters can also submit interview requests through an online system at www.cpcnews.cn - the information portal of the congress - if they want to talk to any individual delegate.
The site, which opened on Thursday, provides the congress agenda, latest news, announcements and background information on past CPC national congresses in Chinese and English.
Zhai said that during the 17th Party congress more than 60 percent of such individual interview requests were fulfilled, and this year he is confident the success rate would be higher..
Ilsa Rodriguez, a correspondent for the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina, said she would like to do some interviews on China's social and economic development.
Rodriguez is on her second tour of duty as a resident reporter in China and had covered the 16th Party congress in 2002.
"Politics will be the main part of the upcoming Party congress. I also want to know more about how China addresses its social security, healthcare and education issues," Rodriguez said.
Yang Chao, deputy director of the news department of Taiwan's Eastern Broadcasting Co, said his biggest concern is the future development of cross-Straits relations.
"I hope negotiations and cooperation between the island and mainland will expand from the existing cultural and economic sectors to politics," he said.
Yang also said he's pleased reporters can register and submit interview applications online this year.
"Before, we had to do lots of paperwork and there was a bigger chance for mistakes," said Yang.
Free Wi-Fi is also provided at the media center.
"We must keep pace with the times," said Zhai, director of the media center.
(China Daily 11/02/2012 page3)