After the five-year congresses of the Communist Party, the National People’s Congress is the most important political event in China. This year is particularly important because it comes after the XX Congress of the Communist Party held in October, which will go down in history due to Xi Jinping’s continued power and expulsion before the Plenum of his predecessor, Hu Jintao.
With little drama, we in this assembly expected to see his renewal as president, as in 2018 he overhauled the constitution to bypass the limit of two five-year terms. But, at least for Sunday’s opening session, we’ll be watching it on TV because none of the ABC correspondents accredited in China have been invited.
At first, it could be believed that the veto was caused by the series of photos with Hu Jintao’s expulsion during the October conference published by this newspaper, which had a wide international resonance and spread among dissidents and VPN netizens, since ABC has been censored in China since November 2021 for a profile titled “Xi Jinping, the Red Emperor”. However, the majority of the media, especially Westerners, asked to cover the first session of the Assembly and found their request rejected.
From Spain, which has dozens of accredited media outlets, it appears that only the state news agency will be able to attend. But other countries, such as the Netherlands, Brazil, Switzerland and Austria, do not have any authorized means of covering the opening of the Assembly. Even prestigious British media, such as the BBC and the Financial Times, have been left out.
In addition to the resulting discontent among those affected, the many enforced absences caused great inconvenience in the Chinese Correspondents’ Club. Coincidence or causation, always difficult to discern in this country, the club published another scathing report this week decrying the regime’s control over journalistic work and its further obstruction last year with the restrictions of Covid 0.
The aforementioned policy once ended due to the historic protests at the end of November, and after the wave of injuries and deaths that followed the impromptu opening, this association presented itself as the first in normal life. As a precaution, the authorities have limited the number of media in the association for the past three years. With the regime claiming victory over Covid, everything indicated that this excuse was over and that foreign journalists would have been invited back to the Great Hall of the People, where the Assembly is taking place. With an area of 171,800 square meters and a capacity of 10,000 people, it is such a huge venue that there is no excuse for not being able to accommodate the only one.
Don’t see, don’t tell
Since 2005, when this reporter arrived in Beijing, the National Assembly has been the political event par excellence through which the regime has wanted to parade its organic parliament. However, in separating the media, many Western journalists have been excluded. One of the reasons given was that there was no room because a delegation of 60 journalists from the Global South, invited by the authorities, came to cover the association and travel around the country with all expenses paid. This is how the regime polishes its image in countries like Zambia, Jamaica and Uzbekistan and educates a series of experts on China, who better understand and spread its message. Some of them, like the Spanish-American delegation that covered the Communist Party Congress in October, decided not to publish anything about Hu Jintao’s expulsion. Like the Chinese media, they didn’t see it as important.