Tiny moments, details define China's legislative session

The annual session of China's ceremonial legislature is designed to awe onlookers with its size and sweep, with nearly 3,000 delegates and hordes of journalists and others gathered in the cavernous auditorium of the hulking Great Hall of the People, itself adjacent to the vast expanse of Tiananmen Square in the heart of the Chinese capital.

Yet the experience is also made up of tiny moments, details that point to the personalities of the participants and the event's unique, sometimes quirky, traits that a casual observer might easily miss.

Delegates attend in all their finery, whether smart business suits, crisply pressed military uniforms or a monk's maroon robes. The various minority ethnic costumes featuring elaborate silver headdresses and embroidered silks liven up the scene with splashes of color and the tinkle of bells. On the way to their seats, they rub shoulders with one another and the army of white-gloved attendants in black suit and tie, ever ready to check an identification card or pour a cup of steaming hot tea.

For many, the 10-day session is a chance not only to perform their pre-ordained tasks of discussing and approving government reports and any pieces of legislation before the body, but also to catch up on news and see old friends, particularly those from other parts of the vast nation of 1.37 billion people. Selfies are now de rigueur for attendees, alongside the standard group photo beneath azure skies freed from the usual choking smog, reportedly through the temporary closure of polluting industries in the surrounding region.


In this Wednesday, March 8, 2017 photo, security personnel sit in chairs while on guard duty during a plenary session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Friday, March 3, 2017 photo, a ribbon on a staff member's outfit blows in the breeze as she arrives for the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Friday, March 3, 2017 photo, a hospitality staff member holds a signboard with the logo of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) as she directs delegates after the end of the opening session of the CPPCC at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Wednesday, March 8, 2017 photo, a man stands near rope lines used to line up journalists during a plenary session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Wednesday, March 8, 2017 photo, a Tibetan delegate wears prayer beads and carries rolled-up paperwork as he arrives for a plenary session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Sunday, March 12, 2017 photo, an ethnic minority delegate wears a hat topped with a silver bird as she leaves a plenary session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Friday, March 10, 2017 photo, an anti-tampering security sticker seals a panel at the base of a light pole on Tiananmen Square near the Great Hall of the People before a plenary session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Friday, March 3, 2017 photo, a military delegate poses for a group photo as she arrives for of the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Wednesday, March 8, 2017 photo, a security official stands next to a traffic cone as he guards a crosswalk outside of the Great Hall of the People before a plenary session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Sunday, March 12, 2017 photo, decorations hang from the hats of hospitality staff members as they pose for a group photo during a plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Friday, March 10, 2017 photo, cups of green tea bearing an image of the Great Hall of the People are available for delegates and visitors during a plenary session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Friday, March 10, 2017 photo, a member of China's procuratorate wears a pin on his lapel as he arrives to hear a report by the head of China's Supreme People's Procuratorate during a plenary session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Friday, March 10, 2017 photo, a delegate takes a smartphone photo of a painting inside the Great Hall of the People during a plenary session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Sunday, March 12, 2017 photo, a security official with a Chinese flag patch on his jacket stands guard outside of the Great Hall of the People before a plenary session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 

In this Saturday, March 11, 2017 photo, tassels on the hat of an ethnic minority delegate blow in the breeze as she arrives for a plenary session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

 


Text from the AP news story, Tiny moments, details define China's legislative session

Photos by Mark Schiefelbein

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