If you've been following the glorious progress being made in this year's rounds of the parliamentary-ish National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, where members of China's government and military from across the country meet in the highest halls of power, make proposals and decide the future of the country, then you've probably seen this photo being blogged around.
‘One look and you know these people sleep a lot,’ reads the caption given the photo by blogger Wang Xiaofeng. And his readers?
But even if they wake up there's not a lot they can do
Then again, if you fell asleep in Senate, after it got put on TV, voters would dump you in the next election
Fellow Bullog blogger and journalist Ten Years of Chopping Timber, looks back over years of reporting on the two annual meetings with memoirs of an ex-NPC/CPPCC reporter:
Also a Bullog blogger and experienced journalist, writer of the well-read Web News This Week Wen Yunchao notes:
Could it be that NPC/CPPCC delegates used to be just as afraid of speaking on the issues at hand as the civilians of China were? Daniel Wu of the Lobby China blog makes the fascinating observation that there are a few China's Congressperson who keep blogs, open comments and all, and not just no-name rural despots, but bureau heads at the provincial and municipal levels, several Party members, several NPC representatives and even one president of a state-owned enterprise, most with many fascinating comments and much more active and personalized than the over one hundred blogs officially set up for NPC/CPPCC representatives, journalists and civilians hosted at Xinhua. Has a committee been set up to mobilize the Party faithful like the PLA-educated Zhang Chaohan, to blog the Party line on propaganda arm People's Daily blogs with the aim of shaping public discourse? Have yet to see mention of such in any of the many comments being left.
For sure, this session of the NPC and CPPCC meetings has been a breakthrough for the role blogs have played in facilitating discussion. Spin maybe be inevitable, but issues can no longer be ignored or covered up, even if they aren't brought up. Which many bloggers have done their best to do, like the August 1st Military blog, with quite a few posts over the last couple weeks blogging on such topics as the opening press release for the two meetings, issues put forth by the powerless Democratic party, the government's determination to build a harmonious socialist society against the backdrop of a growing wealth gap, corruption, China's territorial waters and the power role in Asia, the tax system, and the news of upcoming selection of CPPCC representatives for China's millions of migrant workers.
And then there's bloggers like The Fallen Leaves are Flying Again who blog on delegates’ work reports and exactly what stances leaders, namely Hu Jintao, are committing themselves, as well as those bloggers with 50,000 readers like Water of Surging Waves’, who admonish the Communist Party of China leaders to keep things ‘real’ in their speech and action, and things transparent in their work as well as reflecting the growing demand at the local levels of government for more capitalist reforms, very similar to reporter Luo Changping's recent piece in Caijing magazine as translated by Jonathan Ansfield at China Digital Times:
“As the story describes it, the four provinces are vying for official approvals, preferential status or other forms of political support for their trophy projects. The contingent from Hubei tell Caijing they envision creating a new zone around Wuhan in the image of Tianjin‘s experimental Binhai – it's time for the experiment to spread, a Hubei vice-statistics chief argues on his NPC blog – but they admit that their planners aren't as far along as counterparts from neighboring Hunan.”
Many bloggers continue to see the two meetings as not much more than rubber-stamping processes, and there's a strong cynicical tone as bloggers are left writing about proposals like renaming streets and mountains. But, asks the Ten Years of Chopping Timber blogger in another post, has the entire affair become a celebration of parody in itself?
Hong Kong-based Pheonix TV has set up a blog to cover this round of bill-stamping as well, with, as usual, some of the best day-to-day analysis around.
‘People's Liberation Army representatives criticize wording of [a recent Chen Shui-bian statement calling for an independent Taiwan],’ writes china.com bbs user Strong Country Hawk. ‘It would be tragic if both sides of the strait broke out in war,’ to which commenters respond:
Give literate citizens blogs but no public space to discuss society's ills and you've got a million Chinese Instapundits with a million solutions to all of China's problems. Like the third-world situation in which the corruption-plagued countryside remains. Government, says Hexun blogger CCTV-1000, give the allocated money straight to the ‘peasants‘ themselves instead to local authorities where it gets diverted. Keep finances transparent, he writes, and they're easier to manage than officials, and corruption will be prevented:
Edgy blogger ProState in Flames hasn't missed a beat in blogging the meetings, with posts mocking delegates’ proposals to change the names of historical mountains,
troubled Huang Ju, part of Jiang Zemin‘s ‘Shanghai Gang‘, saying that important decisions made at these sessions of the NPC and CPPCC—the most important so far for Chairman Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao—cannot be decided by one person alone! (Huang's emphasis) as well as posts on the proposed private property law [blogged in great detail here], global warming, and making it an act of treason to serve in foreign armies.
Speaking of which, and credit to Joel Martinsen at Danwei for guidance, of the more controversial proposals put forth being discussed on blogs is the anti-seditious speech law. The blogger at the Letters from China blog has translated part of an interview with Yu Quanyu, the CPPCC delegate who made the proposal:
“Yu is going to propose the following sentences for “Hanjian speech offence”: the maximum jail sentence for offenders who defend the invaders since 1840 (the first Opium War) will be 10 years; the maximum for those who defend the invader since 1931 (the September 18 Incident) will be 20 years. The person in charge of the newspaper which publishes the Hanjian speech shall be liable and the maximum sentence should be 3 years; however, he will be immune from prosecution if a rebuttal or apology is published within a week. When asked whether the proposed law would affect the freedom of speech and press freedom, he said although the freedom was protected by the constitution, it must not harm the public interests.”
Having made his proposal, Yu Quanyu then took a minute to bring light to the fact that due to lack of seating space, journalists in the meeting room had been sitting on the floor and demanded that something be done. Readers at independent blog aggregator Bullog had some interesting interesting feedback on this
That last part would sweeten things for the journalists. I bet even he thinks his proposal is too stupid, that's why he's mad sucking up to the reporters, hoping the media won't make too much trouble for him.
Although, we still have to support Yu Quanyu!
Revolting, boring and idiotic are all more honest than lies.
It's not boring at all. Just look at all the pieces written by Chinese reporters sent overseas, you can see that they may have Marxism in their mouths, but in their hearts it's Machiavellianism. They know what's going on.
Yu Quanyu, an old politician, always pretending to be crazy and stupid, ignorant and fearless. Him and Li Xiguang..two of a kind.
Readers at Bo Yong's Bokee VIP blog, all anonymous except for the first three, had even more to say on the speech law:
As a high-ranking intellectual, in openly challenging human dignity and that of the national constitution, should a law be set up to punish this “renegade” Yu Quanyu? It's really gone too far with this, even with the “strong sense of righteousness”. The future of the coutry rests in the hands of these people? What shame! I propose that March 5th be designated as Chinese Intellectuals Shame Day.
So many proposals, it's hard to keep up. Were there any that you thought should have been explained in more detail? Let me know.