At the first session of the 13th Beijing People's Congress, which opened on Sunday, there were some unusual new faces, including migrant workers and a Beijing University graduate in her 20s who has become a village head.
"Participation of these new deputies makes the deputy group more representative," said Liu Weilin, vice secretary-general and spokesman with the Standing Committee of the Beijing People's Congress.
Liu added that the groups of worker deputies and farmer deputies, which number 28 and 21 respectively, were 18 and eight larger than last year.
A report in the People's Daily said that among the 770 new deputies to the People's Congress of Beijing Municipality, only 62, or 8 percent, were from government departments, down from 100 five years ago.
Chen Huan, 42, was working as a sterilizer at the fresh milk workshop of the Beijing Sanyuan Food Co., Ltd. Zhang Yonghe, 27, worked in garbage disposal at the Beijing Environment Sanitation Engineering Group Co., Ltd.
They were recognized as "spokesmen of migrant workers" at the session. "We are going to submit a bill to have migrant workers enjoy the same social insurance as citizens in Beijing," said Zhang.
"Absorbing more migrant workers is good for optimization of the deputy group," said news analyst Shen Yangyou. "This is necessary not only for promotion of democracy at the grass-roots level but also for safeguarding the lawful rights of migrant workers."
A second change was that deputies generally became younger. "Compared with last year, the number of deputies whose ages were above 55 dropped," Liu said.
Taking the limelight was Chen Lijuan, a 20-something graduate of Peking University, who is now a village head in Fangshan district.
"As village head, I should work for the benefit of the villagers," she said. "Now that I have become a deputy, I sense that I have more responsibility to work for the people of Beijing."
According to Liu, a third change about the deputies was a higher proportion of those from the legal, financial and basic education sectors.
"China is developing fast and the social structure is always on the move," said Jin Anping, professor at Peking University. "The appearance of new faces just reflects this change. For instance, more deputies from the financial sector would help deliberate the budget report and work plan by the government."