02/04/2024 10:22 AM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.

By Siti Radziah Hamzah

During my three-week participation in the China International Press Center 2024 Programme in Beijing, I gained extensive insight into foreign policies, with a highlight being the chance to engage in media interviews with various Chinese officials.

This opportunity came with the annual Two Sessions, allowing me, a journalist primarily focused on corporate and economic news in Malaysia, to observe firsthand China's parliamentary processes.

The ‘Two Sessions’ refers to the annual meetings of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), both of which convene every March at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. These sessions, occurring simultaneously over the course of a week, offer a comprehensive overview of governmental proceedings.

The contrast between the Malaysian and Chinese systems, influenced by differing governmental structures and cultural backgrounds, has led to varied approaches in conducting interviews and managing press coverage.

Despite the ongoing presence of COVID-19, which many have chosen to overlook, participating in the programme exposed us to China's continued practice of nucleic acid testing.

This was unexpected for many, especially when compared to the nasal swab tests familiar from Malaysia's parliamentary sessions during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

China's method involves a painless procedure where the swab is placed between the inner cheeks and lower gums, a significant deviation from what we had experienced back home.

What stood out to me during the Two Sessions was the strict adherence to punctuality, a stark contrast to the waiting times typically associated with interviews and press conferences in Malaysia.

Whether it was the opening of the NPC, the CPPCC or press conferences by various ministers, events commenced precisely on time.

Reporters made it a point to arrive at least an hour early to secure seating and set up their equipment, highlighting the professionalism embedded in these proceedings.

The organisation of the venue and the conduct of press conferences in China, characterised by on-the-spot question-and-answer sessions, offered a fresh perspective compared to the Malaysian experience.

The China International Press Center 2024 Programme, facilitated by the China International Press Communication Center (CIPCC), aims to expand participants' understanding of China's impressive development.

Running from late February to June, the programme, now in its 10th year, has attracted its largest group yet, with over 100 journalists from more than 90 countries across the Asia Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Central Eastern Europe.


Siti Radziah Hamzah is a journalist with BERNAMA, the Malaysian National News Agency.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)