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As you’ll see from the photo, it is a glorious day in Beijing. A glorious day to head down to Tiananmen Square and take in the action at the National Peoples Congress and the Chinese Political People’s Consultative Conference. These two bodies–often referred to by cynical Western reporters who clearly have no faith in the democratic process as “China’s rubber stamp legislature”–are meeting in the Great Hall of the People. This blocky edifice, completed in 1959 to mark the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, coincidentally at a time when some 20-30 million people were dying of starvation caused by Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward–actually looks pretty good today, its columns soaring upward towards the clear azure sky and the the dozens of scarlet banners flying on the roof rippling in the spring breeze.

I was lucky enough to witness the deliberations of the delegation from Guizhou Province, which met in a sideroom to discuss the Work Report delivered to the 3000 delegates yesterday by Premier Wen Jiabao. This meant that along with the usual middle aged men in suits there were also some funky apparel on display from the minority representatives.