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Less is more at annual meets

By YU RAN in Shanghai, SU JIANGYUAN in Guiyang, PEI PEI in Shijiazhuang and SUN RUISHENG in Taiyuan | China Daily | Updated: 2013-01-30 23:47

Less is more at annual meets

Yang Xiong (right), acting mayor of Shanghai, chooses his meal at a buff et dinner for deputies to the 14th Shanghai People's Congress on Sunday. The city government has adopted various measures to keep its two sessions frugal. [TANG YANJUN / CHINA NEWS SERVICE]

Fewer staff, shorter speeches, modest dinners and less printing ― meetings of local legislators and political advisers across China are getting slimmer, simpler and greener.

Having cut down on the number of staff members involved in the Shanghai People's Congress by 20 percent from last year's meeting, the organizer also reduced spending on food and accessories.

"The budget for the first meeting of the 14th Shanghai People's Congress was nearly 18 percent lower than last year," said Ni Yinliang, a senior officer of the organizing office of the congress.

The suggested length of speeches is eight minutes in most regions of the country.

"I've noticed that the majority of deputies gave shorter speeches in discussions with better quality advice, which enables us to finish the meetings on time and leaves more time to submit our written comments and proposals," said Zhuang Shaoqin, a Shanghai lawmaker and head of the city's Fengxian district.

Similarly in Shanxi province, the number of attendees for this year's two sessions decreased by 144 and the number of staff members was cut by 295, and the length of the congress was reduced from eight days to six and half days, said Ma Wei, director of the organization department of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference's Shanxi committee.

Decorations for meetings across the country have been simplified.

Fewer fresh flowers were seen, and red carpets were not rolled out to welcome meeting participants in many regions including Shanghai and Guizhou province.

Shanghai and Shanxi suggested participants use public transport and arranged 15 direct shuttles to travel between subway stations and meeting venues.

No police cars were deployed to escort vehicles carrying meeting participants, and traffic was not suspended to make way for them.

"I've taken the subway since the first day of the congress, and I've found a great many of deputies have done the same thing in the past four days," said Wu Jiang, a Shanghai lawmaker.

Many provinces and cities are using online systems to reduce printing.

Shanghai continued its operation of the online submitting system and sent out e-copies of documents to the deputies instead of printing them out.

Wu added that he is very satisfied with the online submitting system of written comments and proposals, which is convenient and saves energy and resources.

The online system has also been applied in other places including Tianjin and Guizhou.

In Tianjin, more lawmakers and political advisers have become aware of using both sides of a piece of paper while taking notes, reported.

In addition, dining expenses have been reduced.

The organizer of Shanghai People's Congress session offered only six hot dishes served buffet style.

"The buffet allows us to choose what we like and avoid the unnecessary waste of food, which is a very wise decision," said Shanghai lawmaker Zhuang.

In Guizhou, meeting participants are served with hot water instead of tea.

"Replacing the tea with hot water will definitely minimize the costs of labor and materials," said Wang Shaoer, a member of the provincial political advisory body.

Hebei province has come up with another way to save resources.

Passes that are valid for five years were given to deputies and committee members.

Passes will be kept by the organizers after the first-year congress and be reused for the following four years. Lawmakers and political advisers serve five-year terms. They used to be given a new pass each year.

"It is good to prevent the waste of those certificates every year, and we can keep it as a souvenir after attending the five-year congress," said He Bingqun, a political adviser in Hebei.

Contact the writers at

Wang Yuke in Tianjin contributed to the story.

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