IV. Our foreign exchange work entered a new phase.
Foreign exchange work of the NPC is an important part of the country's overall diplomatic work and plays an important role in enhancing mutual understanding, strengthening mutual trust in the political arena and promoting mutually beneficial cooperation. Last year we received 90 delegations from 56 countries, and missions headed by members of our Chairperson's Council visited 30 countries and regions.
Setting up mechanisms for regular exchanges with the parliaments or congresses of other countries is an important NPC measure that helps maintain the continuity and stability of our foreign exchange work and makes the work more productive. Significant progress was made in setting up such mechanisms last year.
First, on the basis of the mechanisms we had established for regular exchanges with the parliaments or congresses of eight countries, including Russia and the United States, as well as with the European Parliament over the previous few years, we set up last year mechanisms at different levels for exchanges with the parliaments or congresses of South Africa, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia, Egypt, Brazil and Chile as well as the Japanese Diet. A basic pattern for such mechanisms has now been established.
Second, the cooperation council composed of members of the Standing Committee and the Russian Federation Council and the cooperation council composed of members of the Standing Committee and the State Duma of Russia held their first meeting. A fresh round of talks was held separately by members of the Standing Committee with members of the US Senate and with members of the US House of Representatives. The NPC held its twenty-third regular meeting with the European Parliament. The cooperation council composed of members of the Standing Committee and the Japanese House of Councilors held its second meeting. The NPC's exchanges with the parliaments of France, the United Kingdom, Canada and other countries proceeded smoothly. During the exchanges, the two sides conducted a thorough exchange of views on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of common concern, drew up general plans for multilevel exchanges and cooperation in various areas, and discussed ways and means to promote cooperation in practical matters. They deepened their exchanges under their mechanism for regular exchanges. All this has injected fresh vitality into the development of state-to-state relations and expanded the scope of topics discussed and areas of cooperation.
Friendly relations with the parliaments or congresses of neighboring countries were strengthened, friendly cooperation with the parliaments or congresses of developing countries was strengthened, and good progress was made in exchanges in the areas of legislation and oversight. A roundtable meeting of the Chinese and Russian legislative bodies was staged by the NPC and the Russian Federation Council in Harbin last September as an
important activity in China's Year of Russia. At the meeting, the two sides clarified the focus and forms of their cooperation under the new circumstances. During its exchanges with foreign countries, the Standing Committee adapted its means of communication to suit the target audience and used a large quantity of information and data to widely publicize China's domestic and foreign policies and thoroughly explain to the world the country's commitment to a path of peaceful development and its dedication to building a harmonious world. The Standing Committee also thoroughly and carefully addressed the questions of Taiwan and Tibet. All this enhanced understanding and acceptance of China's domestic and foreign policies among the parliaments, congresses and governments and among the legislators and ordinary people of other countries.
We actively participated in the multilateral activities of international and regional parliamentary organizations such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Asian Parliament Assembly, the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum, the Latin American Parliament, the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Organization, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Pacific Islands Forum, and worked with these organizations to safeguard the rights and interests of developing countries. We attended the first speakers' meeting of the member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, held in Moscow last May, where we raised three proposals. One was to work for cooperation between parliaments under the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, another was to focus on promoting cooperation among all member states in practical issues in all areas including the fight against violent terrorist forces, ethnic separatist forces and religious extremist forces, and a third was to adopt a variety of flexible means for cooperation at regular or irregular intervals. The proposals received widespread approval from the participants and exerted a positive influence on the development of multilateral cooperation among parliaments and congresses.
The Standing Committee last year ratified 18 treaties and agreements China concluded with foreign states and approved the country's accession into 3 international conventions. It also made decisions on and approved the appointment and removal of a number of employees in Chinese state organs.
The Standing Committee paid close attention to self-improvement. Its members earnestly studied Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of Three Represents and gained a thorough understanding of major strategic concepts such as the Scientific Outlook on Development and the building of a harmonious socialist society. Lectures on special topics related to the work of the Standing Committee were organized for their members to constantly improve their knowledge of the law and modern science and culture and help them improve their ability to perform their functions in accordance with the law. We improved the system for releasing information through the news media, successfully ran the NPC website and a television program on the law, and began live television coverage of meetings of the Standing Committee on the Internet, all of which made our work more transparent. Organs of the Standing Committee implemented the Civil Service Law, launched an education campaign to foster the socialist concept of honor and disgrace among its employees, stepped up efforts to improve the overall quality of their cadres, and constantly worked to consolidate and enlarge on the results of the education campaign to preserve the advanced nature of Party members. This improved our service attitude as well as the quality of our work.
Ever since this NPC was elected, you have been carrying the great trust of the people of all our ethnic groups, maintaining a high sense of responsibility toward the Party, the country and the people, and working conscientiously and wholeheartedly to fulfill your duties. You deliberated and approved bills, were active in submitting bills and proposals, enthusiastically participated in activities of the Standing Committee and strongly supported its work, thus making important contributions to efforts to improve the work of the NPC, uphold and improve the system of people's congresses, build a moderately prosperous society in all respects and create a harmonious socialist society.
Under the leadership of their respective Party committees, local people's congresses at all levels and their standing committees performed their duties in accordance with the law and made outstanding achievements in all their work. In addition, they did a great deal to assist the Standing Committee in carrying out inspections of compliance with the law and investigations related to legislation and in effectively serving you and carrying out foreign exchange work, as well as made important contributions to joint efforts to improve socialist democracy and the socialist legal system.
The special committees of the NPC attached great importance to self-improvement efforts, took full advantage of the skills, rich experience and other traits and strengths of their members, thoroughly studied issues, supported each other, coordinated their actions, worked hard and played an important role in improving the quality of the work of the NPC and its Standing Committee. (More)