7 March, 2006

the npc and the foreign press

AsiaPundit has been covering the National People’s Congress this week and can report that he is satisfied with China’s political system. It’s a fine thing that China doesn’t have a fully functioning Western-style democracy.

Under China’s current system, parliament only meets 10 days a year. If it were any longer than that it would be even more unbearable. Today was day three, and AsiaPundit is practically ready to retire.

271565While AsiaPundit would usually complain that Chinese government figures and leaders of state-owned enterprises are not accessible enough to the media, he is reconsidering that position.

After sitting through Ma Kai’s press conference yesterday, AsiaPundit is now thinking that it may be a good thing that officials rarely engage the press - it preserves the sanity of both sides. The officials aren’t prepared to address the media and clearly don’t enjoy it. Foreign hacks have to endure 20-minute prepared answers to planted questions asked by state media, all the while fighting off the urge to sleep as the CCTV cameras pan the audience.

Fellow Shanghai correspondent Running Dog is finding the experience equally as rewarding.:

Stumbling up the steps of the Great Hall of the People, caked in sweat after wandering desperately around Tian’anmen Square on an unseasonably warm March morning as he searched for a gap in the police cordon, Running Dog realized that journalism, as such, wasn’t really for him. After three hours of twitching and mumbling grumpily to himself during the opening speech of the National People’s Congress by Premier Wen Jiabao, quickly followed by the sight of various media comrades, holding their mikes and notepads like knives and forks and pouring enthusiastically out of the Great Hall’s doors in order to rugby-tackle, head-lock and in at least one case paralyze fleeing delegates in the search for the all-elusive Golden Quote, Running Dog was even more convinced that he ought to change his profession.

Beijing reporter Lalaoshi is having equal amounts of fun.:

131873328In the spirit of scientific policy-making in China, I give the National People’s Congress and its advisory body "3 F’s" for their performance during the 2006 annual plenary session so far this month.

F1. FLAKING: Delegates know what the top Party leaders will lecture them on during formal sessions and know they get no chance to comment on the content, so why bother entering the great lecture hall inside the Great Hall of the People? Best to hang out in the anteroom drinking tea and posing for photos or stand on the Great Hall steps (see photo evidence above) giving interviews to China Central TV reporters, who will air whatever you say.

F2. FLEEING: When approached by foreign journalists, basically anyone with a notebook, a savage white face and a press pass emblazoned with the word "Japan," turn your back with a sheep-like smile that says FEAR FEAR FEAR in nonverbal Chinese and walk away. If the journalist persists, have your aide stick a hand in the journalist’s face. Foreign journalists: Do the same when approached by local TV reporters who want sound about "democratization" in China.

F3. FIGHTING: Whoever you are, delegate or journalist, live by your barnyard instincts and block others to compete for scarce resources. Delegates, strong-arm past reporters and one another to get into the lecture hall (or the tearoom) on time. Delegates must also use giant swathes of the steps and the tearoom to set up posed photos. Journalists, shove one another to get interviews with the delegates scrambling to get avoid you and mob security check so you can hustle copies of the government work report before the help desk stops handing them out.

AsiaPundit is set for seven more days of listening to officials talk about the "harmonious society" and the "new socialist countryside." Should he survive this, he is looking forward to Shanghai and his usual beats of tech companies, MNCs and investment banks.

Normal posting should also return at that point.

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by @ 11:30 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media

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