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Focus is now on fair and proper representation

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08:29, February 29, 2008

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Hu Xiaoyan got a text message on her mobile phone from a colleague on Jan 21. She keeps getting messages but that was special, for it said she had been chosen a deputy to the 11th National People's Congress (NPC).

"I couldn't believe I had been elected," says the 34-year-old migrant worker in Guangdong. "I suddenly felt that I had a greater responsibility on my shoulders and that I needed to know more about many issues."

The reason for Hu's surprise is not difficult to guess. The resident of Sichuan - the province that is one of the biggest sources of laborers - working in the country's manufacturing hub of Guangdong had become the first migrant worker to be elected an NPC deputy.

"This is a new beginning for me," Hu says. "I'm only a junior high school graduate. But I'm confident of fulfilling my duties as a deputy."

Hu, however, is not the only migrant worker deputy in the 11th NPC, which begins its first full session on Mar 5 this year. Giving her company in the NPC will be Zhu Xueqin from Shanghai and Hei Xinwen from Chongqing. Their candidacy was confirmed by the NPC Standing Committee yesterday, making them the first batch of "spokespersons" for the about 200 million migrant laborers in the country's top legislature.

Grassroots workers and farmers, too, have a bigger say in the NPC this time. NPC Standing Committee figures released yesterday show the number of workers has doubled among the 2,987 new NPC deputies from those elected five years ago. The number of farmers has increased 70 percent.

In contrast, the number of officials from provincial level government departments has dropped by at least 33 percent from five years ago.

The numbers of representatives of women and ethnic minorities have also risen. Woman and ethnic minorities' deputies comprise 21.33 and 13.76 percent of the 11th NPC, both higher than the last congress.

"Each one of the country's 56 ethnic groups has a representative," says NPC Standing Committee Vice-Chairman Sheng Huaren.

The deputies this time are better educated, too. Figures show about half of them have a master's degree, an increase of 15 percent from the 10th NPC. The proportion of deputies in the 11th NPC is more scientific than before, Shen says.

"The increase in the number of delegates from the frontlines of society means the NPC represents a wider section of people now," he says.

NPC Standing Committee member Guo Fenglian says a wider representation would help NPC work better. "I'm glad to see the country's first migrant worker representative in the NPC," she says.

"Having rural migrant workers in the top legislature shows the government acknowledges they are an important part of the country's development."

NPC deputies from the grassroots level know more about social problems, and their participation in the legislature will ensure that decisions are more people-oriented.

Apart from regular agenda such as reviewing the working reports of the central government, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Supreme People's Court, deputies will also discuss a report on the institutional restructuring of the State Council and elect the country's new leaders.

Source: China Daily

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