Bo Xilai

Delegates do their best to dodge hungry press pack

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 March, 2006, 12:00am


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Setting foot inside the Great Hall of the People for the annual NPC meeting can be a nerve-racking experience for government ministers, with journalists ready to pounce during probably the only time of the year they can freely ask the officials questions.

Some ministers are mobbed more often than others, not only because they are in charge of important issues but also because of their media skills, a cherished quality in a country where getting a comment from a government spokesman is no easy feat.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing is well known for his humour and his old trick of volleying questions back at journalists with posers like: 'Where are you from? Then you should speak with the conscience of a Chinese!'

He draws such a big media crowd that once Mr Li almost stumbled. Another time, security guards tried to pull him away from the pack, but the media-friendly minister still carried on.

Commerce Minister Bo Xilai has been a star among journalists since he was the mayor of Dalian , but his preferred tactic of distracting reporters did not seem to work this time. The pack did not take the bait when he pointed in another direction, saying: 'Look, Li Zhaoxing is over there.'

But by far, reporters are most impressed with Yang Yuanyuan , director-general of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China. Yesterday, Mr Yang repeated the same line non-stop about 20 times: 'I am only a non-voting delegate.'

'Did he practise that in the shower?' a journalist wondered aloud.