An unforgettable experience

Updated: 2016-02-08 15:45

By Ian Morrison(China Daily)

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Attending the annual Spring Festival symposium for foreign experts with Premier Li Keqiang was an experience which I would never have dreamt of when I arrived in China in 2002.

I remember that every year at this time, just before the Spring Festival, I would see the news clip on Xinwen Lianbo, China Central Television's flagship news bulletin, featuring veteran foreign experts, including many who made a direct contribution to the Chinese revolution and the building of New China - such as Israel Epstein, Joan Hinton, Isabel Crook and Sydney Shapiro - meeting the premier, but I never dreamt that one day I would be following in their footsteps.

The event was more than purely ceremonial, this was no mere Spring Festival party.

It is held every year as part of a sincere effort by the central government to get opinions from the widest range of people to help inform its decision-making for the year ahead.

And my fellow attendees who offered their intelligent and well-informed opinions and suggestions to the premier were truly a galaxy of talents.

To imagine that the premier of one of the most important nations on the planet would take time out from his busy schedule in order to listen to what we had to say about the way ahead for the nation, whose government, he leads is truly impressive.

Premier Li listened attentively to all of the contributions made during the discussion, and in his response and summing up he covered every point which was brought up.

But beyond that, what the sharp-eyed among us noticed and which was even more laudable was that he did so without taking any notes.

His response to what were some quite complex and detailed points, which dealt with everything from the macroeconomic situation to the type of air purifiers he had installed in his office, was entirely based on memory.

I got the impression that this is a man in full command of the facts and with a virtually photographic memory.

The deep impression this knowledgeable, well informed and witty man made on me, along with the great sense of history I always feel whenever I enter the Great Hall of the People, truly made this a day which I will never forget.

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