Zhou Hongyu, a deputy to China's lawmaking National People's Congress (NPC), said Friday he felt something special about this year's NPC session, scheduled to open Sunday.
A blog site has been opened for him and other NPC deputies a week before the session, grouped under the title of "deputies' blogs."
"With this blog, I'll be better able to hear voices from the general public and learn about their lives. It will help me fulfill my duties as an NPC deputy," Zhou, a vocal proponent of educational reform, writes in the opening remarks on his personal blog.
Zhou has also written down motions and proposals he brought to the session in his blog, including proposals on curbing arbitrary collection of fees in schools, improving the quality of rural school teachers and protecting the interests of laid-off workers.
Tang Weihong, who is in charge of the website, blog.people.com. cn, which hosts the deputies' blog sites, said all NPC deputies and members of the National Committee of the CPPCC, China's top political advisory body, are free to open blog sites with the website.
"They have to go through an identity verification process, of course," she said.
The annual sessions of the NPC and National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in March are considered the most important annual political events of China.
So far, eight NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members have opened blogs on the website, administered by the People's Daily. More are in the process of application, said Tang.
"We hope such blogs will help the NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members to better communicate with the public," she said. "There is a demand for such channels of communication. The public wants to know what the NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members are doing. Many deputies and members are also willing to tell the people about their work."
There have already been lots of responses to messages on deputies' blogs. One of them says: It's a good thing to open deputies' blogs before the NPC session, which will help the deputies know the thoughts of the public and bring them to the NPC session.
After reading a blog article of Zhu Yongxin, a CPPCC National Committee member, a correspondent of a Japanese news service left a message showing his interest in the article and asked for an interview with Zhu.
Tang said NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members may post their thoughts and feelings during the annual sessions. They may also reveal what kind of motions and proposals they have brought to the sessions.
"They may keep their blogs on the website as long as they like, even after the annual sessions close," she said. The two sessions last for around two weeks.
The emergence of blog sites of NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members marks a new development in China for using the latest communication technology, including the Internet and mobile phone text messages, to enhance the transparency of public affairs.
Live broadcasts of major political meetings and news conferences on the Internet, along with TV and radio, have become a commonplace.
Leading Chinese websites, including www.xinhuanet.com, www. people.com.cn, www.China.com.cn and the Chinese central government website www.gov.cn, all have applied and won approval to broadcast live the NPC and CPPCC sessions of this year.
The news conferences held by the Information Office of the State Council these days are invariably broadcast live by the leading websites.
"As far as I know, China is ahead of many other countries in this field," said an executive with xinhuanet.
A survey conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences revealed that by November last year, about 16 million netizens in China wrote blogs on the Internet.
However, some NPC deputies worry the spread of blogs might lead to problems and difficulties in management.
"Blog may give one the right to speak, but it may also be a breeding ground for spiteful attacks or vulgar tastes," said Shi Chunsheng, an NPC deputy from Tianjin, a leading port city in north China.
To ensure blog sites serve as a platform for individuals to express personal views freely, lawmakers have urged a better legal environment for the management of blog sites to prevent vituperations in the virtual world from extending to people's daily life and to protect citizens' privacy.