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Reporters See More Convenient, Open 'Two Sessions'
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Li Zhe, a reporter from China Nationalities Gazette, found it more convenient to cover the "two sessions" this year, as he could ferret out a large amount of information from an online press center.


The two sessions refer to the ongoing annual sessions of China's top legislature and top political advisory body, which are considered the most important annual political events in China.


The website dedicated to releasing information about the two sessions is not a fresh practice, but it is enriched with more "subtle" details in favor of reporters this year.


Li, heavily dependent on the online media services, would resort to the press center's Web site for relevant information every time before he went for an interview.


He told Xinhua that he planned to interview Dao Meilan, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) and also a famous folk dancer from southwestern Yunnan Province. "I will first search the Web site for her background information and the contact number of the Yunnan delegation coordinator, who can arrange the interview for me."


Apart from the specific information about every deputy and their motions or suggestions, the press center also posts on the website a digital map, which marks the addresses of all 35 NPC delegations.


"In the digital map, you can easily spot hotel addresses of the Yunnan, Guizhou, Tibet and Xinjiang delegations," said Li, who is particularly interested in the motions tabled by ethnic deputies.


"There is no 'technical obstacle' at all, in the contact with the media center to interview deputies," he said.


Like Li, more than 800 overseas journalists may have a more thorough taste of the media-dedicated "convenience" while covering the two sessions this year.


Foreign journalists can for the first time contact and interview lawmakers and political advisers "directly" in this year's two sessions, thanks to the newly implemented regulations that give them more freedom of reporting in China.


The new regulations, which took effect on Jan. 1, give foreign reporters free access to reporting China in the run-up to and during the 2008 Olympic Games.


Actually, China is trying to open all its economic and social aspects to them, as illustrated by their "direct" touches on two sessions.


The journalists can, if they wish, contact the media center directly or the coordinator of every delegation beforehand to search for interviewees.


"In previous two sessions, we didn't know where those lawmaker and political advisors stayed, nor were we informed of media officers' contact ways. There is a lot of improvement this year," said Manabu Sasaki, a reporter from the Beijing branch of the Hokkaido Shimbun Press.


Sasaki had grasped the opportunity to find answer to his top concern -- Are Chinese kids, mostly only children in their families due to the family planning policy, all capricious?


Lou Wenying, an NPC deputy and vice principal of a primary school in Jiangyan City of eastern Jiangsu Province, dispelled his doubt, proving with facts that not all Chinese children are egoistic.


"Thank you for making me have a better understanding of China's education," said Sasaki, warmly shaking hand with Lou after the interview.


Lou later told Xinhua that she didn't want to take the interview at first, as she thought what foreign reporters said about China might show a biased stand. "But now I feel it's a good thing to exchange ideas with them, which can help clear misunderstandings," she said.


Compared with Sasaki, Saito Makoto, a correspondent from the China General Bureau of Kyodo News, and Tetsuya Suetsugu, a reporter from the China branch of the Yomiuri Shimbun (Japanese Daily), were much sharper.


They raised a series of sensitive questions concerning tensions over under sea energy deposits and disputes over the Diaoyu Islands in a 40-minute interview with NPC deputy Gao Zhiguo, who is also executive director of China Institute for Marine Affairs under the State Oceanic Administration.


"The way to resolve these problems is through peaceful bilateral negotiations for an agreement," said Gao after answering all their queries.


In addition to the permission of direct contacts with the two sessions' participants, foreign reporters are also provided with more English versions of work reports and key documents this year.


"The number of foreign reporters and media services they enjoy is also an indicator of a country's openness. This year's two sessions show that China is becoming one of the most attractive places to the world's reporters," said a Hong Kong reporter who declined to give his name.


(Xinhua News Agency March 14, 2007)

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