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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The first incident occurred in 2003 when Liu had just started her business on Jinzhou's long mud flats, a far from ideal environment for raising sea cucumbers. "A management error resulted in all the sea cucumber larvae being destroyed in a single night. It was so bad that at times I thought I would never be able to make a comeback, let alone repay my loans," she said.

The second blow was equally devastating. In 2009, when "about 40 percent of the Bohai Sea had frozen", Jinzhou and a number of neighboring cities faced the worst sea ice in three decades. The water froze a month earlier than usual, posing a severe danger shipping and the fishermen's livelihoods, and an intense cold front arrived overnight.

"The memories are still vivid. It was the morning of Oct 14. We went out to pick the mature sea cucumbers, but they were all limp and lifeless," she said. "We had never had an experience like that before and nobody knew how to deal with it. We lost sea cucumbers worth 10 million yuan," said Liu, whose trade is notoriously "high risk, high reward".

"Sea farming relies heavily on good natural conditions. If disaster strikes, there's very little the farmers can do to recover their outlay," she said.

When the NPC ends and Liu returns home to Jinzhou, she plans to visit four neighboring coastal cities to collect more information and refine her motion ready for the NPC's 2014 session. She acknowledged that many officials and technical experts have indicated their support for the future of the aquatic farming industry, but feels that her first-hand knowledge will be invaluable. "I know more about the situation on the ground than they do, so it's easier for me to pass on the message from the grassroots to the decision makers," she said.

Field research

Rehangul Yimir unraveled a crumpled sheet of paper to display the motion she will submit to the upcoming session. Although the handwritten proposal, covering both sides of the paper, looked rather like a primary school student's homework, it's the outcome of field research conducted by the young woman from the Kizilsu Kirghiz autonomous prefecture in the south of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Newcomers get chance to shine under NPC spotlight

Rehangul Yimir, a 24-year-old NPC deputy from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, talks with a colleague about the motion she will present at the NPC session which begins on Tuesday. Her proposal was translated into mandarin from the Uygur language with the aid of an electronic translator (below). Photos by Cui Jia / China Daily

At 24, Rehangul Yimir is the youngest deputy in the Xinjiang delegation. She admitted that when elected, she had little idea of her responsibilities and rights as a lawmaker and she confessed that initially she thought the State leaders wouldn't listen to her.

"But the teachers at the NPC training classes provided by the county and prefecture congresses assured me that my opinions will be considered," she said.

Many of Xinjiang's newly elected lawmakers are first-time NPC deputies. To smooth their entry into the legislative body, they gathered in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang, to attend a three-day training course. There, the deputies gained general information about their home region, including population figures, economic growth data, annual revenues and the surplus of rural labor. The class also explained the role of the NPC and the decision-making process.

After the course, the young deputy decided to travel 500 kilometers from her hometown in Akto county seat and visit pastureland located at an altitude of 3,800 meters.

"There are things that you would never think of, if you didn't go and see for yourself," she said.

The isolation means that the cost of living in the mountainous area is far higher than on the plains below. Rehangul filled three notebooks with descriptions of the things she saw and heard in the village.