BEIJING – Dressed in vermillion coats, colorful scarves and high-heeled boots, the well-coiffed young women accompany delegates at China's rubber stamp legislature to the Great Hall of the People then hold signs up to guide them back to their buses.
In between, the women move on to the equally important tasks of taking selfies and posing for painstakingly composed group photos.
The women have become as much a feature of the National People's Congress' annual session as the speeches and ritualized discussions inside the imposing building. Whether leaping into the air as a group or posing in perfectly symmetrical lines, their images grace the pages and websites of Chinese news outlets.
Chinese media typically run photo galleries of the women in various formations, accompanied by captions attesting to how the "beautiful service staff" provide assistance to the delegates and "add warmth and color" to the meetings.
They are among the thousands of support workers employed at the political gathering in central Beijing who have been carefully picked, according to Chinese media reports, in part based on their appearance. The staff are trained on how they should stand, smile, gesticulate and pour hot water into the tea mugs of leading members seated on the vast stage before the nearly 3,000 delegates.
Designed to affirm the work of China's government, the legislature's annual meeting in Beijing is a tightly orchestrated affair that rarely veers from the script.