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Chinese public see progress from tough debate in "two sessions"
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10:15, March 17, 2009

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· NPC & CPPCC Sessions 2009
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Chinese netizen "Yannong" was impressed by academician Wang Enduo's "pickiness" during the just-concluded annual "two sessions".

Wang, a deputy attending the Second Session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislature, was unhappy with the budget report of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

That ministry said one third of its total spending in 2009 would go to "other affairs." Wang wondered what they were and how the money would be spent.

"Deputies are challenging the government on specific issues," said Yannong on his blog. "This shows the deputies are getting more serious with their rights of participating in politics, and also shows the 'two sessions' are rising from their 'rubber stamp' image into a democratic platform."

The two sessions -- the Second Session of the 11th NPC and the Second Session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body, concluded last Thursday and Friday respectively.

During their 11-day run, more than 5,000 legislators and political advisors from around the country examined government reports and debated over topics ranging from tackling the financial crisis to restoring the May Day golden week holiday.

"From the media, I can sense the heated debates within the Great Hall of the People," said netizen "Flying dandelion".

"Speak and let speak. The 'two sessions' displayed a democratic atmosphere."

Mao Jianguo, another Internet user, said, "Deputies expressed their opinions freely. Their questioning and criticizing will push government departments to better fulfill their jobs."

Yannong wrote: "The questions raised by deputies were very specific, making it nearly impossible for the government departments to dodge. They were forced to give specific explanations or answers as well."

During the deliberation of the national budget report, NPC deputy Li Yongzhong found inconsistency in figures and pushed for an explanation. The Ministry of Finance gave a response later.

"Only as more deputies seriously question and persistently exercise their supervisory rights can the 'two sessions' become more effective and the quality of democracy be upgraded," said Mao.

As deputies represent different sectors, regions and interests, it was only natural for them to have different opinions and even argue during the conferences, said "Wuyuelunchunqiu".

"Only through debate can significant issues concerning the public interests be given full discussion, and the policies and measures that officially come out later be more inclusive.

"I look forward to more such arguments concerning public interests," he said.

Foreign media have also noted the changes. The Yonhap news agency from the Republic of Korea said this year's two top political conferences were different from previous ones, as heated discussions broke out among participants.

During the events, discussions were not confined to conference halls but showed up in newspapers, on TV and online. With an Internet population exceeding 300 million as of January, the Web has become one of the most important ways for the public to air their views.

Although the "two sessions" saw an annual burst of supervisory force and remarks, Internet user "Linzhi" lamented that this situation wouldn't last.

Prior to the sessions, the media and deputies solicit public opinion through hotlines, mails and blogs, which are then submitted to the sessions in the form of bills.

Now the sessions are over, Linzhi hoped the "two sessions effect" would be extended to daily political life.

Another netizen, Li Jianbo, said the government's attention to public opinions should not be temporary. "The expression of public opinion should become a compass for government work," he said.


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