I HAVE A QUESTION: What will Xi Jinping’s New Era bring to China?
By Han Bin
The 2018 Lianghui made history, not only for being the longest session with the most significant content in decades, but also for setting up new structures and principles. China's future largely depends on the decisions made from Beijing, and how the government answers the questions with real action.
“I Have a Question for Lianghui” is a special series on the daunting challenges in today's China and the possible solutions. We try to respond to questions from different groups of society to provide diverse perspectives. The topics were chosen to meet the interest of our international viewers, based on their newsworthiness.  And we used a new approach in covering the political season to make a difference in this year’s coverage.
The topics are challenging and so was getting the interviews. Can Beijing be more tolerant and accept more migrant workers? How can China’s anti-poverty drive target different situations? Are Beijing’s blue skies a result of strong winds? When can China speak out on sexual harassment? Can rich Chinese give back? There are no easy answers to any of China's stories. The 17 episodes provide alternative sources to tell China's stories in the context of Lianghui.
CGTN reporter Han Bin and cameraman Wang Jigang in front of the Great Hall of the People. /CGTN Photo, Cai Jingxuan

CGTN reporter Han Bin and cameraman Wang Jigang in front of the Great Hall of the People. /CGTN Photo, Cai Jingxuan

Lianghui is a chance for reporters to get to know how decisions are made and how they will make changes in Chinese society. It’s a rare chance to meet with officials from different regions and levels. Covering Lianghui for some two decades, I've seen some changes among the lawmakers and CPPCC members. Many years ago, most provincial regions were obsessed with GDP growth. This year, what I was hearing at group discussions was “innovation, green development, quality growth.” As China's economic development model climbs the quality pyramid, the government and enterprises are turning their attention to new management and business models.
Another interesting phenomenon is the growing number of young people getting involved in the political system. More young people from the post-90s generation have been elected as national legislators and advisors, as their roles in society have become increasingly important. We did a story on what the post-90s can bring to China’s future. These stories may not have the same weight as the key hard news stories covered each day of Lianghui, but they are the human ones that deserve our attention. "I Have a Question for Lianghui" is an opinion- and solution-driven series, but it is also a series about people.
The interview is crucial in any piece of good reporting. Getting the right one isn't easy, considering the fierce competition among journalists from around the world. It’s a test of a reporter’s resources, and sometimes, professionalism and determination. I spent five hours trying to interview noted film director Feng Xiaogang during a CPPCC group meeting. I tried several times to ask him a question, and he refused each time. I can understand his concerns, but being a national advisor, he has the obligation to meet with the media. When all journalists were tired and gone, I stayed in the room till the meeting finished. I went up to him for the last time and finally got his answer – which was all of six seconds. But it’s an exclusive interview and a key soundbite for the piece. I later told him I did not chase after him because he is famous; I did it because the issue he talked about, making the Chinese movie industry strong, is important.
Eighteen days is relatively long for any reporter covering an event, but it’s short to talk about China issues. During the interviews, we got a strong sense that there’s still a long way to go in building the government’s blueprint, and great efforts are needed to push forward reforms. And that’s why questions for Lianghui will continue after the meeting.
“The new NPC should strengthen social legislation, like Treatment of Community Law and the Law of Social Organizations, so as to grant more social rights to the people,” says NPC deputy Zheng Gongcheng.
“Medical reform is a challenge for all nations, and five years is not enough. But reforms on medical triage and the integration of medical resources will ease difficulties in seeing a doctor,” says NPC deputy Bian Zhuan.
“We need to implement an open international trade policy, and to continue opening up to the country’s financial sectors, while at the same time keep alert for potential risks,” NPC deputy Lin Yong.
China has enjoyed economic growth and social stability during Xi Jinping’s first five-year term. Still, there are numerous challenges along the way to what President Xi calls a “strong and prosperous” nation. The country – and the world – are watching to see how the government reaches that destination, far beyond his next five-year term.
Special thanks to script consultant Laurie Lew, cameraman Wang Jigang, new media writer Wei Lynn Tang, and project coordinator and editor Zhuang Yuying.
They have been working hard with me during the political season. They made this mission possible and we hope you've seen a difference in CGTN’s coverage of Lianghui 2018.