China's top government advisory body is beginning its annual session amid growing concerns over housing, urban congestion and skyrocketing food prices.
The opening Thursday of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress session will be followed over the weekend by the annual meeting of the National People's Congress, China's rubber-stamp parliament.
The advisory body has no real power but acts as a sounding board for issues of concern and passes on suggestions to the legislature.
The two sessions mark the highlight of the Chinese political calendar, and security in Beijing has been tightened in recent days. That's also partly because of nervousness over online calls for Middle Eastern-style protests.