Since the late 1980s, the Chinese premier’s press conference at the end of the country’s annual congressional sessions has been a rare chance – albeit limited – for overseas media to ask the premier directly about the state of the nation. This year is the fifth time Premier Li Keqiang will mount the podium in Beijing to take questions . SCMP.com will cover the press conference in a live blog. What is the press conference and why does it matter? The tradition started in 1988 when the then new premier, Li Peng, took questions from journalists after the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, according to China Newsweek . The question-and-answer sessions generally lasted anywhere between one and three hours. It’s one of the few opportunities foreign reporters have to pose questions directly to a top official, but it’s also a chance for the premier to show his command of the issues of the day. What do they talk about and what can be expected? Li has answered more than a dozen questions at each of his press conferences over the last four years, on subjects ranging from the economy to foreign affairs, politics and Hong Kong. In that time the questions have shifted from political issues to the economy and international relations. While Hongkongers will be looking for a signal from Li on the city’s chief executive election, they can also expect him to cover ties with the United States and the situation on the Korean peninsula. Unlike his predecessor Wen Jiabao, Li is more likely to use plain language rather than quote poetry. “In advancing reform, the important thing is to take action. Talking the talk is not as good as walking the walk,” Li said in his debut appearance in 2013. Can we expect the unexpected? While many scripted questions went to state media in recent years, there have been surprises and even political drama at the press conferences. In 2012, the final question to Wen was on then Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, whose brief flight to a US consulate set in motion the dramatic downfall of Chongqing party boss Bo Xilai and the conviction of Bo’s wife for the murder of a British businessman. Wen took the opportunity to publicly reprimand Chongqing authorities over Wang’s escapade and in less than 24 hours, Bo was stripped of his job.