The annual Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference has opened at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The CPPCC kicks off a political high season that will continue with the opening of the National People's Congress on Thursday 5 March.

Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
A conductor of a military band performs during a rehearsal for the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the People in BeijingFeng Li/Getty images

Around 2,000 delegates are expected to attend this year's CPPCC session. Members hail from various walks of life and ethnic groups, as well as from token political parties meant to assist the ruling Communist Party in running the world's most populous nation and second-largest economy.

The conference is ostensibly a venue for voices from the full spectrum of Chinese society who issue proposals meant to advise the 3,000-member legislature in its work.

Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
A general view of Beijing's Great Hall of the People during the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative ConferenceFeng Li/Getty images
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
Hostesses jump on Tiananmen Square during the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative ConferenceFred Dufour/AFP
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
Soldiers from China's People's Liberation Army march on Tiananmen Square in BeijingKim Kyung Hoon/Reuters
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
A paramilitary policeman stands guard outside the Great Hall of the PeopleKim Kyung Hoon/Reuters
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
Security guards check the venue after the opening sessionWang Zhao/AFP
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
Attendants check the place settings after the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative ConferenceWang Zhao/AFP
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
A Chinese soldier stands guard inside an entrance to the Great Hall of the PeopleGreg Baker/AFP
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
People pass the Great Hall of the People during the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in BeijingLintao Zhang/Getty Images
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
A Chinese journalist speaks to the camera outside the Great Hall of the PeopleFred Dufour/AFP

The advisory body has no formal powers, although membership bestows a measure of prestige and provides ample opportunity for networking.

Chinese President Xi Jinping walked into the main meeting room of Beijing's Great Hall of the People followed by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the CPPCC, opened the session and delivered a lengthy speech praising the body's work.

Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
China's President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang arrive for the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference at the Great Hall of the PeopleFeng Li/Getty images
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) delivers his report during the opening sessionWang Zhao/AFP
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
Sun Zhengcai, Chongqing municipality Communist Party secretary, and Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission, attend the opening sessionJason Lee/Reuters
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
Former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee-hwa laughs as he leaves the venue after the opening session of Chinese People's Political Consultative ConferenceBarry Huang/Reuters

The body's proposals are considered a rough barometer of public opinion, signalling issues of concern from industrial policy to domestic violence.

Among this year's proposals are those calling for three years of maternity leave, the further loosening of China's birth policy, cheaper high-speed train tickets and the printing of new bank bills that would render worthless the stockpiles of cash held by corrupt officials.

Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
A man stands guard during the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative ConferenceFred Dufour/AFP
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
A security official checks ID photos of delegates inside an entrance to the Great Hall of the PeopleGreg Baker/AFP
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
A soldier stands guard behind a door of the Great Hall of the People during the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative ConferenceGreg Baker/AFP
Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
Chinese soldiers march down the steps of the Great Hall of the People after the opening sessionGreg Baker/AFP

Also serving on the panel are celebrities, including movie superstar Jackie Chan and Yao Ming, who use the venue to bring media attention to their causes, such as the former NBA player's campaign against the ivory trade.

Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference CPPCC
Former Chinese NBA star Yao Ming makes his way through a crowd of journalists to the steps of the Great Hall of the PeopleGreg Baker/AFP