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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 March 2008, 18:35 GMT
Main issues at China's parliament
By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

China's National People's Congress
The delegates will largely approve Communist Party diktats

Inflation, the Olympic Games and a government reshuffle will all be on the agenda during China's annual two-week parliamentary session.

More than 2,000 delegates from across the country are in Beijing to attend the National People's Congress (NPC), being held in the Great Hall of the People.

It is a largely ceremonial event, with little public debate among delegates - both inside the meeting hall or among the wider public outside.

As is usual for large government events in the capital, the police have tightened security ahead of the legislative session.

Under the constitution, the NPC is China's highest law-making body, and analysts say it provides delegates with a chance to pass on their views.

But in China all power rests with the Chinese Communist Party.

NPC delegates will merely approve party decisions, many of which were agreed at the party's 17th congress last October.

Inflation concern

When delegates do sit down at this NPC session, they will discuss a reorganisation of China's ministries and the appointment of senior officials.

Beijing Olympic logo
The forthcoming Olympics will be a key topic of the meeting
"There will be bigger government departments with integrated functions," said Jiang Enzhu, the NPC's spokesman.

Wang Yuqing, a senior environmental protection official, told the BBC recently that the agency was expecting to be given more power after the reorganisation.

On the personnel front, Xi Jinping, the man tipped to become China's next president, is expected to become vice-president.

One of the most pressing issues affecting the public inflation is also sure to be a topic of discussion among delegates.

Inflation rose by 7.1% in January, the highest level in 11 years. In a state-run opinion poll, it was the issue that most concerned the public.

Hopeful petitioners

Beijing authorities are also using this legislative session to test the readiness of volunteers who will provide help at the Olympics in August.

More than one million ordinary people are helping to direct traffic and maintain social order during the NPC.

It is also a top priority to maintain social order during the legislative session.
Fan Hui
Fan Hui was dragged from his vehicle for not having a licence

Petitioners often come to Beijing during big government meetings, looking for a chance to let officials know about their particular grievances.

But they are routinely harassed and detained by security officials, as are other groups of people found on the streets of Beijing.

The BBC saw security officials drag a motorcycle-taxi driver from his vehicle earlier this week for not having a licence. His bike was then confiscated.

Thirty-year-old Fan Hui, originally from Anhui Province, said he been operating his taxi service for four years without any problems.

Although debate inside the NPC meeting hall is limited, the parliamentary session is used by campaigners to raise particular issues.

Two groups have sent an open letter to NPC delegates, hoping to persuade them to discuss abolishing the death penalty in China.

"A positive legacy for the Beijing Olympics can only be achieved when China's world record of executions comes to an end," the letter says.

A group calling itself the Tiananmen Mothers has also sent an open letter to delegates, calling for an investigation into the killings in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

They want an apology for every family that suffered in the bloody crackdown, and have requested those responsible be punished.

"We are disappointed that our requests, year after year, have come to nothing," says the letter.

That comment underscores the party's tight control over the political agenda.

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