China Focus: Grassroots presence growing at NPC
BEIJING, March 7 (Xinhua) -- Yu Chun, 50, retired from her job as a bus driver in east China's Hangzhou City last month, but it hasn't been all rest and relaxation.
Yu is in Beijing as a deputy to the 12th National People's Congress (NPC). Every year in March, national leaders, government officials, workers, farmers, professionals and soldiers gather under the same roof to discuss state affairs. NPC deputies come from all walks of life, and Yu is one of the growing number of deputies representing the "grassroots."
Of the nearly 3,000 deputies of the 12th NPC, about 14 percent were workers and farmers, up more than 5 percentage points from the 11th NPC. The number of professionals and technicians also rose by more than 1 percentage point.
Party and government cadres accounted for about 35 percent of the deputies, down nearly 7 percentage points.
Yu drove a bus for 21 years, covering enough distance to circle the equator nearly 20 times. Over the past four years, she has submitted transit-related bills on everything from pollution caused by e-bus battery packs to the industry's shortage of professionals.
According to China's electoral law, the quota of deputies to be distributed according to the size of population shall follow that one deputy represents about 670,000 people in rural or urban areas.
The NPC Standing Committee reserves, however, some deputy seats to ensure that each and every of China's 56 ethnic groups can have at least one seat at the NPC, no matter how small its population is.
"I represent several hundreds of thousands of voters back home. Thinking about it puts a grave responsibility on me," Yu said.
Last year, she and some other deputies were invited to the Ministry of Transport, where they were briefed about the legislative development of public transit.
"My suggestions were taken care of and real progress was made," she said.
During the NPC, deputies propose bills and suggestions as well as review and vote on important legal documents and personnel changes, including the election of top national leaders every five years.
Xie Liying is one of China's 270 million migrant workers. She is also an NPC deputy.
In 2014, she submitted a suggestion calling for inter-provincial medical care for migrant workers. By the end of that year, the central government had introduced a guidance addressing the issue, which made her "very proud."
"I am not representing myself alone. Behind me there are so many fellow workers supporting and counting on me," Xie said. This year, she brought with her suggestions about housing, welfare and education for migrants.
China still has more than 40 million people waiting to be lifted out of poverty. No matter how NPC deputies describe their identity or social status, their common goal is to make the Chinese people happy.
"The deputies elected under the framework of the people's congress system are obligated to serve the people. They listen to the people and speak up for them. This is democracy with Chinese characteristics," Yu said.