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Grassroots Voices Grow in China's Top Legislature

China's ordinary citizens will have more "political mouthpieces" to represent their rights and interests as lawmakers nationwide gathered in Beijing for their annual full session.

"I come from the village and I know the sufferings of farmers. I will work for them and try my best to improve their lives," said Ma Wenfang, a deputy to the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) and a village doctor.

"I hope the public could appreciate manual laborers more as they haven't received enough respect from the society," said Wang Hongjun, an NPC deputy and an industrial worker.

They are not alone. According to the name list of the 11th NPC, worker-turned NPC deputies have doubled the number of the previous term, while the number of deputies from farmers increased by more than 70 percent.

Among them, three rural migrant workers now working in cities have been elected NPC deputies, making them the first batch of "spokespersons" in the top legislature for about 200 million migrant laborers.

The proportion of deputies of provincial officials, however, was cut by one third.

"It has become a common aspiration to optimize NPC deputy structure and enable the grassroots strata to better voice their concerns with more representatives," said Fang Ning, deputy head of the Institute of Political Science under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

He believed it important for more grassroots sectors to participate in political life, which would influence the country's policy-making.

Indeed, grassroots voices have already been included in China's top decision-making process. Earlier, more than 10 grassroots deputies including village teachers, farmers and mine workers were invited by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Zhongnanhai, the compound of central authorities, for their opinions and suggestions on the report on government work to be delivered on March 5.

Internet is another platform for ordinary citizens to get their voices heard. An online poll named "I have a question for the Premier", hosted by, has received more than 60,000 postings, ranging from national economic growth and environment woes to better social welfare for the disabled and rural residents.

The 11th NPC will start its full session on Wednesday.

(Xinhua News Agency March 4, 2008)

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