National People's Congress

Liu falls at first CPPCC hurdle

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 March, 2010, 12:00am

Former Olympic champion hurdler Liu Xiang has caused a stir again.

The athlete, who was made a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference two years ago, admitted he had to rely on ghostwriters to get his new job done.

Speaking shortly after his arrival in the capital for this year's session of the country's top political advisory body, which opens today, the 2004 champion in Athens said he was ready to present his first proposal, but it was not one he had prepared himself.

'Frankly, it was put together by others,' China News Service quoted Liu, 26, as saying. 'I have been too busy for training and don't have time [for the proposal.]'

The report said the proposal under Liu's name suggests coaches of top athletes should get better training and, more importantly, better pay.

But Liu did not appear to be fully satisfied with it. 'If I had written it, I would have focused more on things about athletes,' Liu said.

Liu is scheduled to appear at the opening of the CPPCC session today, but it remains unclear whether he will be able to make it to panel discussions because he plans to have intensive training sessions for a track meet starting in Doha on March 12.

The report said Liu, one of China's best-known sports stars, would have to skip most of the CPPCC meeting.

It is not the first time that Liu has raised eyebrows at the annual meetings of the National People's Congress and CPPCC.

Right after he was given the job, he skipped the CPPCC session in 2008 for a track event and preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games.

Amid widespread criticism questioning his qualification for the advisory job, he managed to make his first appearance at the CPPCC meeting last year - two days before it ended.

Asked why he was unable to produce a proposal, he said he was 'young and there mainly for study'.

For many, Liu's slip of the tongue simply laid bare an embarrassing truth about the largely symbolic advisory body. For years, the CPPCC has been dubbed China's 'political vase', with its delegates mocked for either lacking the guts to touch on issues which really matter to the public or having no real influence at all.

Mainlanders have constantly expressed disappointment that the largely ceremonial advisory body is packed with retired officials and entertainment and sports stars.

Analysts said Liu's candid acknowledgement would only give rise to further public discontent over the ornamental image of the CPPCC.

'It's no secret that many of the delegates are unable to ... write proposals on their own and that's why we see so many poorly produced and useless proposals every year,' said a Beijing-based analyst.