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Sessions full of surprises for the media

Updated: 2012-03-11 08:28
By Liu Xiangrui ( China Daily)

The annual two sessions always mean great opportunities for journalists. It feels like we can effortlessly grab key interviewees, who we would have to chase after for a whole year otherwise.

But we are also prepared for disappointments, and shrug off the frequent brush-offs.

Sessions full of surprises for the media

Liu Xiangrui

I have been especially impressed during my few days here by the traditional "face-saving" art so typical of Chinese culture presented by the NPC deputies and CPPCC members when they are surrounded by journalists.

Take Ji Keliang for example, the honorary board chairman of Kweichow Moutai Distillery and NPC deputy.

He gave us all an excellent lesson in the art.

Ji, all smiles just ahead of a group interviews organized by the delegation from Guizhou province where Moutai is made, sat down and took out a camera to start snapping photos of journalists around him.

"Don't just photograph me. Let's me take some photos of you, too," the 73-year-old said, laughing.

The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed.

But I supposed he was ready for some really tough questions.

To my surprise, during the two-hour interview, Ji skillfully evaded questions about the controversial issues related to Moutai, such as its high price and huge consumption by government organizations.

"The theme for this interview is how Moutai will boost local economy and relieve poverty in Guizhou," he explained.

He then politely invited those who raised the questions to leave their phone numbers so that they can ask take it up with them later.

No embarrassment and it was all a happy ending for the interview.

Perhaps I should have left my number with him, too.

Yuan Longping, a prestigious agricultural expert, had a simpler tactic of keeping off questions he didn't want to answer.

I recognized the slim figure of the 83-year-old CPPCC member when he was on his way to the washroom during a plenary session.

When another journalist and I started to ask questions, Yuan slowed his pace, and opened his mouth to talk.

However, when other reporters gathered round and bombarded him with more questions, the expert seemed a little uneasy and started walking again.

"Now I must go back to listen to the government report," he pleaded, and his expression made us laugh. We had to let him go.

On Thursday I happened to meet Wang Wenzhang, deputy minister of culture and CPPCC member, and tried to invite him to our broadcasting room just steps away in the People's Great Hall for a short interview.

Wang, though declining interview requests from several of us, politely explained he was having an important conversation with his friend, but was willing to leave us his phone number.

No matter what their attitudes are towards the media, deputies should have been prepared to face the press here, ready or not.

But not all the deputies adopted a roundabout tactic in avoiding questions they are not willing to answer.

Some simply explained that they were not in the position to give a comment.

For me, I'd still prefer the more straightforward way.