Newcomers get chance to shine under NPC spotlight

Updated: 2013-03-04 07:15

By Zhao Yinan and Cui Jia (China Daily)

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Deputies attending first congress ready for challenge to live up to people's expectations, report Zhao Yinan and Cui Jia in Beijing.

Liu Qinglian is looking forward to the upcoming National People's Congress. The 52-year-old from Jinzhou in Liaoning province will present a motion worth 13 million yuan ($2.10 million) on behalf of her fellow workers who earn their money breeding sea cucumbers, a traditional delicacy.

Newcomers get chance to shine under NPC spotlight

Liu Qinglian, a deputy at the 12th National People's Congress from Liaoning delegation, has prepared a motion calling for an insurance program for sea farmers. Xu Jingxing / China Daily

As Jinzhou's first NPC aquaculturist deputy, Liu knows her peers will be watching her performance closely as she attempts to push through her proposal, which calls on the government to establish an insurance program for sea farmers.

On Sunday, two days before the session begins, Liu and a number of other lawmakers from the area caught a flight to Beijing. For Liu, the prospect of attending the meeting of the nation's top legislative body is both daunting and exhilarating as she contemplates playing a role she had never contemplated before: submitting motions, choosing State leaders and discussing major political issues, including government restructuring.

The 12th NPC will be notable for a number of changes from previous meetings. The number of grassroots worker representatives has risen while the number of seats held by officials has fallen. The change emphasizes the efforts the body has made during the past five years to promote greater public involvement, according to experts.

At least 401 workers and farmers, including farmers-turned-migrant workers, have been elected as deputies to the congress for the next five years. They account for 13.42 percent of the 2,987 newly elected lawmakers, an increase of 5.18 percentage points from the 2008 legislature, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The increase in the number of grassroots voices means that less than 35 percent of the deputies are government and Party officials, a reduction of 7 percentage points from 2008. As a result, 210 seats previously held by officials will be taken by deputies selected from the general public.

Wang Wanbin, deputy chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said the new deputies come from a wide range of backgrounds and the move has been "highly popular with the public".

The night before Liu arrived in Beijing, she spent time finalizing the wording of her motion. Her call for the insurance program has its origin in two devastating episodes from her decade in the aquaculture industry that cost her an estimated 13 million yuan ($2 million).

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