Young reporters grill ministers at China congress

November 14, 2012 - 6:25:35 am

BEIJING: The innocent but pointed questions from a pair of young reporters to officials at China’s Communist Party talks have provided a refreshing break from the usual fare of bland reports and rote answers.

The plucky 11-year-old reporters from Chinese Teenagers News have become a minor media sensation in their own right by highlighting hot-button issues that typically make authorities squirm, including food safety and rising prices.

Zhang Jiahe, press badge around his neck and “junior journalist” embroidered on his clothing, told China’s housing minister that rising accommodation costs were affecting disposable income -- including for new toys.

“Our family has not bought a house but a few friends nearby have faced this problem,” he said at the normally tightly-scripted gathering which heralds the unveiling of a new leadership on Thursday.

Skyrocketing property prices have squeezed China’s growing urban population in recent years even as government controls have slowed their rise.

Meanwhile food safety scandals have put off Zhang’s colleague Sun Luyuan and her friends from eating their favourite snacks.

“I love snacks, but I don’t dare to eat snacks now because we see so many reports these days of problems with food products,” she asked high-level officials, according to the state-run China News Service.

“Why are these kinds of food products available for purchase?” she added.