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from Photographers' Blog:

Different congress, different picture

Beijing, China

By Kim Kyung-hoon

In China, where the Constitution says “All power in the People’s Republic of China belongs to the People”, the National People’s Congress (NPC) is one of the most important political events in the country.

Over 2,000 various delegates including political leaders, military generals, CEOs, celebrities and even Tibetan monks gathered in the Great Hall of the People to represent their districts and discuss how to shape the future of 1.35 billion Chinese people. In theory, the NPC is the great lawmaking power in China and plays a similar role to the parliaments of its neighboring countries, Japan and South Korea, where I have worked as a Reuters photographer for the last 11 years.

Instead what I saw at this year’s two-week-long NPC in China was very different from what I witnessed in the neighboring countries, even though these three North Asian countries have been closely connected geographically, historically, economically and culturally for thousands of years.

In South Korea and Japan, demonstrators speak out with flashy banners and loudspeakers around the Parliament building. What you will encounter around the NPC is not people speaking out but instead the watchful eyes of hundreds of security officers and surveillance cameras gazing upon you on full alert.

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures 06 March 2011

I do enjoy a coincidence. The week after calls for prodemocracy demonstrations under the social media tag of "Jasmine Revolution" and the week before  the National People's Congress (NPC), International journalists (and I of course include photographers under this title) are brought in by the authorities for "chat". During the "chat" they are reminded of the terms of their journalist visas and how quickly these visas can be revoked if the rules are broken on illegal reporting. Also outlined are places that special permission is needed to report from, Tiananmen Square heading the list. Our picture of a member of the PLA leaving the Great Hall in Tiananmen Square appearing to almost step on the photographer with this low angle picture, as I said I do love a coincidence.

CHINA-DEFENCE/

A military delegate from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) leaves the Great Hall of the People after a meeting during the annual session of China's parliament, the National People's Congress, in Beijing March 4, 2011. China said on Friday that its official military budget for 2011 will rise 12.7 percent over last year, returning to the double-digit rises that have stoked regional disquiet about Beijing's expanding strength. REUTERS

from Changing China:

NPC’s “splash of cold water”

The annual gathering of China's National People's Congress, the largely ceremonial parliament that concluded on Friday, was a nine-day stretch of often unremarkable meetings sandwiched between high-profile comments by top leaders at the open and close.But occasionally, unrehearsed dialogue among some of the thousands of delegates provided a glimpse at the rhetorical flare that sometimes enlivens debate.As Reuters correspondent Simon Rabinovitch reports, some off-the-cuff exchanges -- like this one involving Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and delegates from Hunan province -- got extra mileage once they started being passed around over the Internet after a report on the Economic Observer's website.Read Simon's story by clicking here, "Unscripted reply show China's foreign M&A caution"

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