National pride hits a high note
The 2,100 or so delegates to the top advisory body had a moment of patriotism yesterday, as they sang the national anthem for the first time at the opening of a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
Although some delegates may not recall the last time they sang the anthem, March of the Volunteers, they need not have worried - they all had at least a week to prepare.
Wang Junfeng, a delegate from Beijing, said the organiser of the national conference sent out the lyrics to delegates so they could memorise them.
'In the past, we just stood up and listened to the anthem being played by the military band. It's more meaningful now that we sing the anthem,' he said.
Li Suyin, who proposed last year that CPPCC delegates sing the national anthem at the opening ceremony, told the People's Daily online version that the anthem's tune and lyrics were available on the delegates' intranet.
Li Xiaolin, daughter of former prime minister Li Peng and deputy chairwoman and chief executive of China Power International Development, said it was a 'fantastic experience'.
'I think singing the anthem together makes us feel more united and stronger,' she said.
The CPPCC and the National People's Congress are the most important political events in China and give reporters a rare opportunity to grill the country's officials and heavyweights.
The media centre said it had received a record number of applications from journalists this year, from home and abroad. An official from the media centre refused to give an exact figure but said it was more than 3,000.
This record number of reporters caught the staff manning the Great Hall of the People unprepared.
Many journalists became disgruntled when they were not allowed to get into the press zone in the auditorium, something unheard of before.
Some security guards at the auditorium door said: 'The room is already very full.'