Chinese Parliamentary Sessions 2013
March 2013 sees the annual meeting of the two legislative and consultative bodies of China, where major policies are decided and key government officials appointed. The National People's Congress (NPC) is held in the Great Hall of the People in China's capital, Beijing, and with 2,987 members, is the largest parliament in the world. It gathers alongside the People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) whose members represent various groups of society.
Mystery over lone vote against Xi
An overwhelming 2,952 delegates voted "yes" to Xi Jinping becoming China's new president on Thursday - but it was the lone "no" vote that attracted attention and sparked debate on China's main social media website.
Discussion of the "mysterious" voter continued on Sina Weibo yesterday even after the word "no vote" was censored as a search term on China's Twitter-like service.
For some commenters, it brought to mind the fate of a delegate widely believed to have voted "no" when Mao Zedong was elected head of the new communist government in 1949.
According to some historical accounts, Zhang Dongsun, a philosopher and former CPPCC delegate, was destroyed by Chairman Mao for his alleged actions. He was accused of selling national secrets a few years after Mao's election, and expelled from the CPPCC.
Aged 82, Zhang was arrested in 1968, two years into the Cultural Revolution. His family was not informed of his whereabouts or situation until 1973, when they were notified that Zhang had died in Beijing's Qincheng prison.
Two of Zhang's three sons committed suicide during the Cultural Revolution. The other was arrested and tortured.
"Zhang paid a high price for a no vote," commented a blogger. "Let's hope this time the person will not be prosecuted."
Some netizens exchanged theories on who the contrarian could have been. "Did Xi himself vote 'no?'" asked one blogger. "Or was it just for show?"
"This is progress for Chinese democracy," wrote journalist Zhang Lifen, a senior editor at the Financial Times, and editor-in-chief of its Chinese-language website. Zhang said he could not understand why state media intentionally left out the tally in their coverage.
"Were they embarrassed the percentage was so high?" he wondered. "Or was it still not high enough?"