There was a heavy security presence in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on the opening day of the National People's Congress.
The 12-day event is attended by nearly 3,000 delegates, who come from right across China.
The country's 55 minority groups are all represented, as are the armed forces. Delegates also come from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
The headdresses and embroidered finery of the minority groups add much-needed colour to the conference, amid the black suits of other delegates.
The highlight of the opening day was when Premier Wen Jiabao (right) delivered his annual report on the work of the government.
Mr Wen stressed how much China had achieved in recent years - but he also expressed concern over inflation, particularly rising food prices.
Some analysts dismiss the congress as a body that rubber-stamps the decisions of the top leaders, but others say there may be room for manoeuvre behind the scenes.
Protesters outside the hall often use NPC meetings as an opportunity to air their grievances against the government.