NATIONAL People's Congress Chairman Qiao Shi has criticised some parliamentarians for treating legislative responsibility as 'second-line work'. 'According to the Chinese constitution, national and provincial congresses carry important and heavy law-making and law-enforcement duties. How can such significant role be regarded as second-line work?' Mr Qiao asked. Although some members joined Congress only after they had left party or government office, this did not mean that they had retreated to the second line, he said. These people were recruited because of their rich experience. They could strengthen operation of Congress, he said. The official media has carried Mr Qiao's remarks in the run-up to the NPC opening session on Tuesday. Mr Qiao added that it had been NPC's intention to rejuvenate Congress. He said that more attention would be given to lowering the average age of standing committee members and NPC members. Meanwhile, Mr Qiao has pledged to strengthen the NPC's ties with foreign congresses, he told Xinhua (the New China News Agency). 'External affairs of the NPC are an important part of the national diplomacy and is a regular duty of the standing committee of the NPC,' Mr Qiao said. Under the guidelines of the country's diplomatic policy, the NPC will devote more resources to improve ties with congresses of other countries and build up co-operation with people at various levels, he added. ' This can help to cultivate a better international environment for China in its process of modernisation and economic reforms,' Mr Qiao said. The NPC and four other government and semi-governmental units have been instructed to draw up strategies to strengthen connections with the United States Congress in response to a deterioration in Sino-US relations. Mr Qiao also criticised State Council officials for putting forward inflated or under-estimated statistics in some reform evaluation reports. Some of these statistics had been corrected after members raised doubts, he said.