Deputies meet to keep tabs on leaders
Provincial deputies - tasked with the dual role of supervising and advising their governments - have begun their annual meetings.
Deputies in Shaanxi, Guangdong and Fujian were among the first to start the annual get-togethers, according to reports by Xinhua and China News Service.
The yearly ritual in which thousands of deputies converge on provincial capitals to review the work of their governments began late last week and was expected to carry on this week.
In Guangzhou, Communist Party secretary Li Changchun and Governor Lu Ruihua addressed delegates of the Provincial Political Consultative Conference (PPCC), the China News Service said.
The delegates presented suggestions on university education, Aids-prevention and combating the infiltration of gangsters from Hong Kong and Macau, the report said.
Mr Li told delegates that Guangdong's priority this year centred on the challenges brought about by China's membership of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Foreign companies are keen to expand their market share in China following its entry into the WTO late last year - especially in areas such as Guangdong and Shanghai where governments are less hostile to foreign participation.
In his meeting with the deputies, Mr Li also expressed concern over farmers' living standards and the competition Guangdong faced in attracting foreign investment.
A report to be delivered by Governor Lu this morning is expected to project a growth rate of nine per cent for Guangdong this year.
The mood in Fuzhou, Fujian province, was more subdued. PPCC chairman Chen Mingyi met the deputies yesterday and encouraged them to offer more 'critical opinions'.
The scene was more colourful in Xian, Shaanxi province, where Governor Cheng Andong bowed three times in front of deputies to express his gratitude for their support, Xinhua said.
'Last year, achievements [of our province] didn't come easily,' Mr Cheng said in an address to the deputies.
'This was hard work by our province's people.'
Mr Cheng made headlines last year when he publicly apologised in front of provincial officials and admitted he 'shouldered responsibility' after Shaanxi experienced several major accidents.
The deputies are delegates to the provincial people's congresses and their parallel political consultative conferences. It is customary for the provincial congresses and consultative conferences to hold their annual meetings ahead of the national meetings, which are usually scheduled for March. However, some provinces hold their meetings in late March or early April.
The people's congresses and political consultative conferences are China's only political bodies with public representation.