Beijing: The decision of 30 women lawmakers to wear a traditional outfit and not a formal suit at the opening of the annual parliamentary session sparked an online storm in China, leading them to drop the idea. Their plan of wearing chi-paos, a kind of traditional long gown with a slit skirt, instead of the usual suits, was disclosed Sunday by the media in the eastern Zhejiang province and triggered heated discussions on major microbloging portals, Xinhua reported.
During annual sessions of China's top legislature, most deputies and delegates choose to wear formal suits except those representing ethnic minorities.
In recent years, a number of deputies and delegates have chosen to wear something different, though their unusual attire has not been widely welcomed.
Their plan of wearing chi-paos, a kind of traditional long gown with a slit skirt, instead of the usual suits, triggered heated discussions online.
The overwhelming opinion on the Zhejiang delegation's move was that such "innovative" dressing would be improper for the formal occasion, but some believed it could add some flare to the female participants' style.
"It's hard to tell whether they are elected to handle political affairs or to do catwalk in fashion shows," said an entry posted by Linqi99 at weibo.com, which had been forwarded over 27,000 times by Monday morning with over 6,000 comments.
Many also posted questions on who was going to pay for the expensive silk clothes and requested for clarification.
Similar concerns were raised when deputies were spotted wearing luxurious accessories and jewels, while people generally expect them to keep a low profile.
Xinhua said that people observe the behaviour, speeches and dress style of their deputies.
With the booming of social networking services in China, especially microbloging, details of those deputies and delegates have become accessible to everyone and open for criticism.
The microblog medium has pierced the veil between the political sessions and the general public, said Zhang Quanling, a popular anchor with the China Central Television and also a microblogger with 2.8 million followers.
Many legislators and deputies also use their microblog to solicit opinions for their motions or proposals.