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CHINA: The National Party Congress

Here is the opening section of an article from Beijing in the South China Morning Post (3/11/02) on the Chinese National Party Congress (NPC): "For Liang Guolei, selling soft drinks and cigarettes at a street stall, the NPC has little relevance. "They call themselves the people's representatives but they are all nominated by the Communist Party. I do not know who my delegate is, nor does anyone I know. We never voted," he said. "If we have a grievance or a proposal, with whom do we raise it? The media is all controlled by the party too, so there is no point in telling them. China wants economic reform, but no political reform." Mr Liang, 46, is one of the losers in the reform process. He was laid off from a state metallurgy factory four years ago, with a one-off payment of 40,000 yuan (HK$37,600), and earns a meagre living from his stall. He and his neighbours watch the NPC proceedings on television in his small room. They feel so alienated that the meeting could be on another planet, instead of a few kilometres away".

Ronald Hilton - 3/11/02