On the evening of October 22nd, we received a message from our program host that on the 23rd, we have to go to the People’s Great Hall once again, where the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which had been going on for the past seven days, had just concluded.
Why were we going there again on Sunday again after joining the closing ceremony on 22nd? Its reason was not immediately understood, but gradually it was revealed to us.
Journalists came to know that after the closing ceremony, it is now customary for local and foreign media to meet the newly elected top members of the Communist Party of China. As a journalist, I was curious that this would be an extraordinary event. The discussion regarding the event had already started at night in the local hotel, where dozens of other media persons were staying.
The party’s new general secretary and six top members were to attend this event. All journalists were convinced that President Xi Jinping will be elected as the general secretary of the party, but will he participate in the morning ceremony? Everyone was giving his or her opinion on this, but everyone wished that if the President participates in this event on Sunday, it will become a memorable day in their careers.
Thus, we had the opportunity to see the President on TV screen several times and twice in the Great Hall from a distance, but the desire to see the President face to face during our visit to China was still alive in our hearts.
This time we were informed that the event will be held at the Golden Hall of the People’s Great Hall. After regular COVID-19 tests in the morning and evening of 22nd, and morning of 23rd, special stickers were pasted on our press cards to confirm that these dozens we were safe from the virus.
At 10 am on the 23rd of October, our bus once again took us to Great Hall. About 15 minutes later we entered the hall premises and were dropped off in the parking outside the outer entrance of the Great Hall. Suddenly, a queue above than a kilometer long including representatives of local and foreign media was formed from the main entrance of the hall to the outer entrance. From the entrance steps to the parking lot of the venue, every journalist was taking pictures of themselves with their special pass and invitation. Everyone knew that they were going to attend an extraordinary event. But still no one knew whether the Chinese president Xi Jinping would be present at today’s ceremony or not.
The 1.5 km long queue was moving rapidly from the security walk-through gate. About 15 minutes later, I reached for the security check. After the usual identification process, I proceeded to the walk-through gate and was instructed to scan my coat separately. Going through this process, I thought today there is some caution in safety measures. I thought that the President himself may be attending the event.
As soon as I stepped into the Golden Hall the imposing building captured me its infrastructure. Spacious, giant pillars were carrying the ceiling with Chinese-style carvings and five huge chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. This hall was shining like gold. A red carpet was laid in the middle of the hall, on which the seats for the media were already allocated, while a platform was built for the cameramen behind the seats right in front of the main stage, from where cameramen could do their work conveniently. There was a podium on the stage where the newly elected general secretary had to address.
Around 11:30 am everyone had reached their seats according to their invitation and with the help of the staff. There were around 500 reporters and cameramen in the Golden Hall now. At 11:45 am, the staff started some movement in the hall and stood diligently at some specific places. Meanwhile, the interpreters came to microphones and gave some instructions in Chinese and English, including wearing a mask, not standing up from his seat, and explaining that today’s meeting does not include a question-and-answer segment. After that, a lady staff came and placed a glass of water on the podium.
It was 12:00 pm and there was silence in the hall at that time. All eyes were on the stage and ears were drawn to the interpreters who were to announce the arrival of the leaders. In such a situation, the cameraman, who was in front of the stage, turned his camera towards the giant golden door of the hall on the right. On seeing it, all the cameras and every eye in the hall turned towards the door.
Ten minutes of curiosity and silence were added to the atmosphere. At any moment, the leadership of one of the most powerful countries and of the second biggest economy in the world was going to appear behind these gates.
Everyone seemed to be lost in the same thought that today they will be able to see President Xi Jinping closely. At 12:10 pm the interpreters announced the new leadership in Chinese and then in English, and the doors to the hall open. President Xi Jinping enters the hall leading his six comrades in the round of applause.It had become a most important occasion in history for all of us, President Xi Jinping was once again elected General Secretary of the Party and he is going to lead his country for the third time.
President of the second largest economy in the world and one of the most powerful personality was in front of us. These had become the most powerful moments.
President Xi took the podium and presented his six comrades one by one. After that, he gave a detailed address to the media representatives. He told the world that China will open its doors more to the world because the world needs China. He said that more opportunities will be found for the world and China will continue to play its role for the future of all.
But one thing that touched my heart in his speech this time was related to the student sitting in exams in which President Xi explained the philosophy of life. During his speech, he said that China is like a student who is sitting in an endless exam. Indeed, this phrase sets fit on every nation and individual.
The President concluded his address by thanking the media, which was a reflection of his appreciation for the work of the media that had been covering the conference since October 16. The President then led his team through the door on the left to applause.
The golden moments at Golden Hall were over but golden time of the world was going to begun.
Rahul Basharat, correspondent of Pakistan Television Network(PTV)