President opens key congress by urging party to combat graft and narrow wealth gap.
China’s Communist party congress is meeting to map out the future of China for the next five years. The five-yearly gathering is being touted as a landmark political event, but what does it mean to ordinary Chinese?
As the men in dark suits gathered in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Al Jazeera went to Ritan Park in the centre of the Chinese capital to find out.
Wang Li, beautician
“I think China’s pace of modernisation is doing very well. But I do worry about the kind of health care and education services for my son.
“It would be nice to have greater access to education here in Beijing. As non-residents, we are not qualified to receive state-provided social services in the city.
“I’ve only one child, and he’s only three-years old right now so I don’t plan to give him too much pressure about his future.
“All I hope for is that he turns out well.”
Luo Yun Nan, cook
“Life has improved so much – absolutely. But I still hope living conditions will improve even more – the things I eat, my housing, my surroundings.
“I come from a village in Hunan Province and just wish for the best for everyone there.
“Some of the people from my village have also come to Beijing. They’re mostly street peddlers.”
My husband’s in Beijing as well, but my daughter’s back in the village.”
Jia Gong Fei, unemployed
“I guess I should watch the party congress – but I don’t really keep up with it.
“I do want to see China more powerful, with a better economy. And for myself – I just hope I can find my own niche here in Beijing.
“I’m from Heilongjiang Province in the northeast of China and I came to Beijing because of the opportunities here.
“There are opportunities back in Heilongjiang, but I want to experience life in a big city and see more of the world.”
Ting Shu Fa, salesman
“I care about the party congress quite a lot – I come to read at this newspaper kiosk every day, and watch the news on television during lunchtime.
“I look forward to greater health services for the rural population – I’m from Hebei myself and from a farming community.
“It’s good to see the party congress try to address the issue of health insurance.
“But, as for myself, it’s hard to see how the government’s decisions are going to have a direct effect on improving my life.
“What does the ‘harmonious society’ mean? I guess it’s sort of about people working together and getting along.”
Bo Bo and Xiao Ming, hairstylists
“We won’t really be following the party congress. We’re tourists from Xian and don’t really have time to follow the news.
“But of course, if you’re talking about China, things are much better than it was before. We’d still like to see more improvements in education and the economy though.
“Xian, the city we’re from, is an ancient city. But maybe Beijing will be better and have more opportunities, so we’re thinking about moving here – we like the environment – and the roads are cleaner.
“And maybe if we work here, we’ll run across a few celebrities.”