Sun. Apr 21st, 2024

China’s parliament commenced its annual session on Tuesday, showcasing a subdued display of pageantry as nearly 3,000 delegates from across the nation gathered in Beijing.

Representatives spanning from rural Communist Party members to esteemed university professors convened for the week-long event. Distinguished military delegates adorned in dress uniforms marched into the expansive Great Hall of the People, while representatives from various ethnic minorities arrived in intricately embellished traditional attire.

Notable figures such as Yao Ming, the renowned president of the Chinese Basketball Association, stood tall amongst fellow attendees on the steps of the Great Hall, while others sought refuge under umbrellas and raincoats to shield themselves from the inclement weather. The National People’s Congress commenced its conference with an orchestral rendition of the national anthem, followed by a comprehensive work report delivered by Premier Li Qiang. Reflecting on the significance of the occasion, delegate Fan Jiuping expressed pride in the support received from the country as a farmer from the village of Qiaozhen in Shaanxi province.

Chen Yeguang, an NPC delegate and cell biologist from Nanchang University, voiced expectations of garnering directives on aligning his work with national objectives. Notably, stringent security measures enveloped the historic center of the capital, with intricate pathways, checkpoints, and car parks erected around the Great Hall of the People. Attendees, shielded from the elements with hoods and scarves, traversed Tiananmen Square as vigilant guards and rain-soaked police dogs monitored vehicle inspections for explosives.

In contrast to the dramatic events of the previous year, where President Xi Jinping secured a historic third term, this year’s gathering unfolded with relative understatement. Absent were figures such as disgraced former foreign minister Qin Gang and former premier Li Keqiang, who passed away months after delivering his final work report. Notably, the ubiquitous face masks, emblematic of China’s stringent zero-Covid policy, were conspicuously absent, reflecting the nation’s transition away from mass testing and snap lockdowns, a departure evident in the relaxed quarantine protocols for attendees and the scarcity of guards donning blue surgical masks.

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