More than 2,800 journalists, both domestic and foreign, have so far applied to cover the upcoming first session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) and the first session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
The figure was 800 more than last year.
The NPC, the country's top legislature, and the CPPCC National Committee, the top advisory body, will open their annual full sessions on March 5 and March 3, respectively.
The press center at the Media Center hotel (No. 11B, Fuxing Road, Beijing) was launched on Tuesday.
The center, which also served journalists covering last October's 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), is only a few kilometers away from the Great Hall of the People, the venue of the two sessions.
Observers believe the Olympic Games, Chinese economy and more transparency of the two sessions have become attractions this year for more overseas journalists. Last year, less than 2,000 correspondents had registered as of Feb. 26.
On Feb. 4, the press center opened two websites to help correspondents cover the meetings. The sites in Chinese, English and other languages, can be found at www.npc.gov.cn and www.cppcc.gov.cn.
A media liaison official said journalists covering the two sessions could file applications online via the websites. Acceptance of applications close on March 5.
Chinese and resident foreign reporters should submit their applications to the press center. Foreign reporters temporarily in China for the sessions should apply at Chinese embassies or visa organizations authorized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the official said.
The Hong Kong and Macao offices of China Travel Service have been authorized to handle applications from Taiwan reporters.
Reporters from Hong Kong and Macao can apply at the central government's liaison offices in the two special administrative regions.
The official said the press center would release information such as contacts of liaison officials, hotels where legislators and political advisors stay during the sessions, session schedules and press conferences and group interview agendas via the websites.
The center also provides journalists with free Internet access, news photos and audio-video signals.
(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2008)