A series of interviews on the sidelines of the two sessions have served as bridges of understanding between officials, legislators, political advisers and reporters.
The so-called passage interviews got their name because they often take place in corridors, or passages, leading to the main meeting room of the Great Hall of the People, either before or after plenary meetings of the National People’s Congress and National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Previously, reporters would wait on a long red carpet in a side corridor, hoping to encounter various ministers to get comments on their walk to or from meetings. It was nicknamed the “ministers’ passage”.
Starting last year, another passage area was designated for NPC deputies and CPPCC members to give media more group interview opportunities with national legislators and political advisers.
“The two new ones supplement the traditional ministers’ passage, and all of them including the news conferences form an information hub for the two sessions,” said Shan Xuegang, deputy director of a center for public opinion analysis at people.com.cn.
Shan applauded the ministers’ passage this year, “as senior officials from China’s top court and procuratorate joined other ministers to answer reporters’ questions there for the first time”, he said.
Judicial officials have realized that the passage is an effective way to spread authorized information and improve credibility, he added.
This year, Jiang Bixin, vice-president of the Supreme People’s Court, told reporters, who were asking about protecting property rights and the rule of law, that Chinese courts would not treat economic disputes as criminal matters. And Tong Jianming, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, outlined a classification system for juveniles when questioned about the handling of juvenile crimes.
During the ongoing session of the 13th NPC, four sets of ministers’ passage interviews were held, with several officials in each group answering questions. Thirty-four ministerial-level officials, including 12 new faces, answered 89 questions from 66 reporters.
Besides hearing from top officials in the ministers’ passage, reporters interviewing NPC deputies and CPPCC members in the other passage also received details and heard opinions about policy implementation.
For example, Li Dongsheng, chairman and chief executive officer of the Chinese consumer electronics giant TCL Corp, told media in the deputies’ passage that the company would ramp up efforts to expand its presence in Europe, India and South America this year, and increase investment in research and development of artificial intelligence.
Fu Yuhang, a deputy from Sichuan province, said she also got useful information in the passages, and that the interviews are a good way to interact with the government and media.
“I’d like to share my work on water pollution prevention next time to help the public understand the industry better,” she said.