BEIJING, Nov. 3 (Xinhua) -- Not long after finishing a trip from Dongguan city of southern Guangdong Province, where a business park is being built, American journalist Mary Kay Magistad went on Saturday to visit another planned animation city in the western outskirts of Beijing.
At the site where a factory of steel-maker Shougang Group used to be located, Magistad, one of the more than 1,000 foreign journalists applying to cover the upcoming 18th National Congress of Communist Party of China (CPC), showed great interest in how to make use of the old facilities and turn them into an innovative project.
"It's interesting to see how much the project will contribute to China's desire to move into more innovative fields, something the government has been talking about for a long time," said Magistad, who is based in Beijing with Public Radio International.
As the five-yearly congress draws near, reporters from around the world are congregating in Beijing to cover the most important event in China's political life. More than 1,000 foreign journalists and 400 from Taiwan and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions had applied to cover the meeting by Friday, a substantial increase from five years ago.
Their focus of interest at the congress covers a wide range of topics beyond China's leadership change, spanning from environmental protection to economic restructuring, from cultural reform to food safety -- a fact which demonstrates foreign media's growing and more diversified interest in China.
Besides cultural innovation, Magistad is also keen on finding out the blueprint for China's economy -- the world's second largest after the United States -- in the next five years at the congress slated to open on Thursday.
"The big question is how does China move into being a more social services-oriented and innovation-oriented economy," she said. "I think that is the challenge China is grappling with right now."
Petri Saraste, a reporter from Finland, plans to interview a CPC member from ethnic minorities at the congress. He wants to hear a voice from China's grassroots about the country's development as well as the challenges it faces.
The senior Asia correspondent with Finnish private broadcaster MTV3 also desires to cover news stories about China's environment and food safety issues.
"The rising number of reporters shows the significance of this meeting and the world's growing interest in China," according to Saraste.
The media center for the congress started operation on Nov. 1. It will arrange coverage for activities related to the event and provide necessary information and technical services.
Compared with the previous congress, the scope of coverage will be expanded and more interviews will be arranged in the media center, Zhu Shouchen, the center's deputy director, said.
"They will be quite busy," Zhu said of reporters covering the event.
On Thursday, the center also launched its official website (www.cpcnews.cn) to offer journalists and readers the congress agenda, the latest news on the event, announcements and background information on past CPC national congresses in both Chinese and English.
The center's photo service room will also provide free photos to both domestic and overseas press.