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Chinese Foreign Ministry opens to public
( 2003-09-07 09:03) (CCTV.com)

For the first time in history, China's foreign ministry has thrown open its doors to the public. On Saturday more than three dozen people from all walks of life became the lucky first visitors to have a look around the ministry.

Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Binguo [R1] receives visitors inside the ministry building. 
The ceremony could well be Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Binguo receiving guests from another country. But these visitors are average people from across the country, with a deep interest in Chinese foreign policy and in knowing how the ministry is run. On Saturday, they were invited to a tour inside the ministry building.

Chosen from hundreds of applicants, the lucky few are active net users who often comment on China's foreign policy in cyberspace. The trip has given them a different feel for the foreign ministry.

"Those spokesmen look solemn on TV. But we have found them very casual just like most people. The Foreign Ministry we saw today feels much closer to the public than the ministry we had imagined," said one visitor name Lu Yunfei, a website administrator.

The Foreign Ministry is the first Chinese government department to open to the public. Ministry officials say the move is part of an effort to help the public better understand the operations of the ministry and the policy-making process.

Another visitor Liang Yajun, a university student, said, "We used to see the country's foreign policy only in terms of theory. This visit helped us realize that making foreign policy decisions is a hard and complex process."

The small group of visitors may not have an influence on the country's foreign policy making. But their face-to-face exchange with the diplomats has given them a glimpse inside the corridors of power. The question is -- which government department will be next?

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