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Foreign reporters praise China's determination to carry out reforms

Updated: 2014-03-07 07:20
By Wang Ru ( China Daily)

Every time I have been assigned to cover China's top annual political event, the two sessions, I have always enjoyed conversations I had about it outside the Great Hall of the People with different people, like talkative taxi drivers and grandmothers dancing on the square near my home.

They have never failed to impress me with their hilarious but honest answers and proposals for their congress and government.

This year, I chose reporters from the foreign press at the ongoing two sessions.

Evgeny Kuzmin, 30, a Russian reporter from the Vostok-Media News Agency based in Vladivostok, told me that he had difficulty finding a seat in the Great Hall of the People on Wednesday before Premier Li Keqiang delivered the Government Work Report. This is the fourth time Kuzmin has covered the two sessions.

It seemed that Kuzmin was more interested in how the Chinese government will implement its promises on reforms than he was in the Ukraine crisis.

After hearing Li's report, Kuzmin was amazed that the new Chinese government is still confident it can maintain its GDP growth at 7.5 percent in 2014.

"For European countries and Russia, it is still a surprising pace," Kuzmin said.

Kuzmin also hoped that he could interview a delegate from Heihe, a border city in Heilongjiang province only 750 meters from his hometown in Russia.

He was planning to travel to Yunnan province and the Tibet autonomous region after the two sessions. But the recent terrorist attack that killed 29 people in Yunnan's capital, Kunming, has given him second thoughts.

"That's brutal and horrible. I don't think any country could tolerate that, no matter what excuses the terrorists have," Kuzmin said.

Leo Lewis, a reporter from the London newspaper The Times, was impressed by Li's decisive words on curbing pollution. He also wanted to see how China's fast urbanization will finally influence the household registration, or hukou, system.

Lewis said he believed that he saw the new government's determination on reforms.

"I am interested to see how China will continue to free its interest rates from its State-owned banking system," he said. "Chinese people are strongly innovative in the financial system, for example, with Yu'ebao, an e-banking platform. It now depends on how the government will use the growing force from its market economy."

Michael Sheridan, Far East correspondent for The Sunday Times, heard Li's report from beginning to end.

"China faces hard choices in its reforms. It reminds me of the situation that the Thatcher government once had," he said.

"It is never easy to make changes in any social system, since change means some people have to lose interests and authority.

"From Li's report, I feel strongly that the Chinese government is no longer hiding from problems. It is so outspoken in face of the realities," Sheridan continued.

"My colleagues and I got visas very quickly from the Chinese embassy in London this year. I take it as a sign that this government will be more open."

Eric Meyer, Beijing bureau chief for French newspaper Les Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace, has reported on the two sessions for 24 years.

"It is the first time the Chinese government has acknowledged that the environment is extremely important," Meyer said.

"China does face serious issues like corruption and pollution. I am interested to see how the streams of reform will water the big tree," he said, paraphrasing Li.

Contact the writer at wangru@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 03/07/2014 page9)