No ornamental flags, flowers or Chinese wines were offered to government advisers in Beijing at their annual meeting on Monday.
This type of austerity can also be seen in other provincial regions, with most areas in China expected to hold their annual meetings for government advisers and local lawmakers this month.
It is part of the ongoing reform of government and Party officials to improve working style, avoid extravagance and cancel unnecessary meetings, after China's new leadership urged officials last December to be hardworking and thrifty.
Liu Weilin, an official of the standing committee of Beijing's legislature, said the local people's congress will see "a considerable amount of expenditure reduction" this year.
Beijing has tried many measures to cut spending, including printing documents on both sides of the paper, and stopping perks for deputies, such as abolishing a special traffic lane reserved only for their use, Liu said.
The work report of the standing committee of the municipal legislature is 25 percent shorter than in previous years, and official speeches are required to be concise to save time for discussion, Liu said.
An Jianjun, a government adviser in Beijing, said not only the conference, but the dinner and facilities at the hotels have been simpler this year.
"The variety of food at the buffet dinner has been reduced and no fruit is provided in the hotel room any more," he said.
In East China's Jiangsu province, Li Xueyong, governor of Jiangsu, delivered a 27-page government work report on Sunday, focusing on improving people's living standards and outlining achievements over the past five years and development goals for the next five years.
The report was shorter than in previous years, and each representative was given only five minutes to speak at Jiangsu's annual sessions.
"To save time, many representatives have to cut unnecessary warm-up speeches and just talk about the issues," said Lu Yong, chairman of Ruohang Transportation Development Co in Nanjing. "Efficiency is the key word of this year's sessions."
He added that like many other representatives, he no longer goes to the meeting by car. Instead, he chooses to take the subway.
Many government reports released by local governments in Jiangsu province talk about the shortcomings in their work.
"According to the Suzhou government, the city's GDP increased by 10 percent in 2012, but it was expected to be 12 percent," said Zhuang Jianping, director of the organization department of the Suzhou agricultural committee.
"We provide real data to the public and face the criticism," said Zhuang.
Xu Yaotong, professor of politics with the Chinese Academy of Governance, told Xinhua that provincial political events should take the initiative to be concise, practical and highly efficient.
Xu said he appreciated reforms but stressed that deputies should have solid qualifications and shoulder responsibility rather than simply be able to deliver emotive speeches.