BEYOND THE GREAT WALL; the China I heard about, the China I have seen: My Experience In Covering China’s Political Activities

By Fredrick P. W. Gaye

There is an adage in Liberia that: “When you are not inside, you never know.” And this is exactly the case with people’s perceptions about China in other parts of the world. I must admit that the reality on ground is different from negative perceptions about the world’s most populous country.

Let me be quick to note that, not all is well in China because it is a developing economy whose government is faced with the challenge to deliver certain portion of the population out of poverty by 2020.

As the Africa-China Relations initiative claims the world’s attention, the question that lingers is, what lessons African leaders and even the citizens themselves can learn from the fast economic growth and development of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

With its population of nearly 1.4 billion, covering a land area of 9.6 million square km, I see China political collaboration and consultations as unique working well to maintain peace and harmony.

China is under the rule of the Communist Party of China (CPC); but improved coordination and consultations are a hallmark by leaders of steering the affairs of the country, as every player, one way or the other, demonstrates nationalism.

I am among twenty African journalists on a 10-month media fellowship at the China Africa Press Center (CAPC) in Beijing in 2016. I arrived few days to the opening of the Country’s annual political sessions: The National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultation Conference (CPPCC) in March.

We were accredited to cover the two events which claimed the attention of the world, as evidenced by the widest coverage in my life so far. Local and foreign journalists at the events were estimated at about 3,500, who nearly filled the Great Hall of the People (Parliament chambers) to capacity.

Inside the chambers, any strange persons including me wondered how such a big country with large population and diverse cultures is being governed with one-party system without noise. I though there was going to be dissenting views following the opening sessions, judging from the Liberian experience; but members of the two sessions conducted the events with cordiality.

It was a great experience on March 3, 2016, when the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee, Mr. Yu Zhengsheng delivered reports on the 2015 work of the Committee at its Fourth Session opening ceremony.

CPPCC is a political advisory body in China. It consists of delegates from a range of political parties and organizations, as well as independent members. The proportion of representation of the various parties is determined by established conventions, negotiated between the parties.

In practice, the largest and dominant party in the Conference is the Communist Party of China which has about one third of the seats. Other members are drawn from the United Front parties allied with the CPC, and from independent members who are not members of any party. The Conference is intended to appear to be more representative and is composed of a broader range of people than is typical of government office in the Country.

CPPC is a patriotic united front organization led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). It is made up of deputies from the CPC, eight non-CPC parties, non-party democrats and people’s organizations, deputies from various minority nationalities and from all walks of life, and Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao compatriots and returned overseas Chinese, as well as specially invited people.

In the committee report, Yu outlined that deepening reform took place in 2015, with the implementation of major policies.

Major among them was ensuring proper understanding of the CPPCC in order to maintain a correct political direction, adhering to structure of deliberations to make political consultations more fruitful; strengthening the CPPCC functions of the democratic oversight by adhering to a problem-oriented approach and promoting ethnic unity and religious harmony to bring together the will and strength of the people.

Touching of China’s foreign relations, Yu said the the committee strengthened foreign contacts to develop a favorable external environment for China’s development.

He also used the occasion to present the Committee’s five-year plan which started this year.

My coverage at the Parliament continued on March 5, 2016, during the opening of fourth session of NPC, where Premier (Prime Minister) Li Keqiang, reported on the work of the government in 2015.

China experienced major boost in economy, with its GDP reached at 67.7 trillion yuan, representing an increase of 6.9% over the previous year; a growth Mr. Li termed as rare faster than most of the major economies in the world.

He reported that a high rate of economic development was maintained and living standards improved.

The Chinese Premier also used the occasion to outline plans for the government in 2016,

It was a colorful ceremony as deputies (members of the Parliament), and following the two events heads of various ministries and agencies giving their reports at press conferences and in sessions.

NPC is the lawmaking and supreme organ of state power and deputies (lawmakers) to the NPC are elected by the provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government, and by the armed forces. Candidates for deputies to the people’s congress at various levels are nominated on the basis of electoral districts or electoral units. The political parties and various people’s organizations may either jointly or separately recommend candidates for deputies.

The multiplicity of political parties and delivering for the people, which one matters? To be continued…