Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: Whose Congress?

Hu Xiaoyan(胡小燕), 34, is a female worker. After graduate from junior high, she had been laboring on field. However, in 1998 she made a decision to leave hometown for a coastal city, working there as a pottery maker till now. Since then, she was sorted, along with 150 million fellow workers, into a specific and growing group, the migrant workers of China.

On 7th, March, Hu appeared in a room inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, dressed up neatly in suit. Reviewing with her fellow delegates from Guangdong pages of paper, she proposed two points —– enhancing the working skills of migrant labors, and taking a better care of their children left behind in villages. The attendant leaders from the central government nodded to the ideas.

It was not long after the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao putting forth his work report on the annual session of National People’s Congress (NPC), and Hu was exactly taking her duty as a delegate, to review the government report, and more importantly, to speak for the millions of migrant workers. She is one of the three delegates chosen from this group, which had never been individually represented before.

meeting-the-delegate.jpg
Premier Wen is meeting the migrant worker delegate. (!A typical Chinese picture)

Their presence came to be a highlight of public. Another deputy, Mr. Knag from Chongqing, told how the swarmed reporters filled up his room, unwilling to leave until 12 P.M. Migrant workers have been supplying China with cheap workforce, a fuel that sustained the dazzling “Made-in-China”. But not until 2008, have they a chance to have someone really from them to stand for the group on the highest legislative congress of China.

Admire-Moral commended:

It marks the delegates speaking for such a huge but disadvantaged group finally come on stage. Their presence will allow the decision-making agencies to hear the voices from the grassroots.

But it’s just a humble start, given the only 3 migrant-worker delegates very much overshadowed by the over 1000 official delegates, more than 1/3 of the total 2987 in the congress, who stand for the 50 million in public office.

The overwhelming population of official delegates in the legislative congress unsatisfied the commons. The public, whose citizen awareness considerably awakened by series of public incidents in recent years, might have been fed up with the ritual for deputies to be merely “rubber stamps” or “hands”—- stamps to approve the official orders made beforehand, and the hands to clap for the authority.

They called for more different voices. The word “unanimous” doesn’t look as harmonious as it’s supposed to be. And that might explain why the public felt insulted when hearing some voices echoed from the Great Hall.

The vice director of Beijing railway bureau, Luo, also a delegate, suggested the extremely hardship of buying train tickets during Spring Festival, the time workers going back home for reunion, is due to the low price. It earned him a chorus of jeers, as blogger Chuang Tianmao commented, that either his IQ slumped or the delegate made a fool of the 1.3 billion Chinese.

“The wicket has never enough tickets, indeed, but in that case, however, we can always, and have to buy tickets from speculators at a much higher price. Why can they always get so many tickets? Because they feed the railway officers.” Bloggers unreservedly rail against the dirty deals under the table, and called Luo’s comment “eerie”.

And citizens have to suffer from more such sayings.

“Why do we have to apologize? Tell me why?!” the governor of Weather Bureau inquired boldly, oblivious of the snowstorm that afflicted China not long ago due to the poor preparation against the disaster. “The costly housing price can drive more money from the rich (what about the poor? People ask)” and “there is no monopoly in telecom industry of China” are another two examples. Reviewing the affliction of Chinese to catch up with the skyrocketing real estate expense and checking the landscape of telecom in China might tell you why netizens sighed and amazed at their words.

Therefore chehuokaixin appealed for more delegates really from and for people.

Since the foundation of the People Congress system, rarely have real people been the delegates. ……Isn’t it tragic that there has been no delegate really speaks for us? The a few PEOPLE delegates on the session, nevertheless, have no right to speak, but the right to listen —– to listen to how the officials praise themselves.

Would the delegates of migrant workers bring more fresh air in, letting officials long in office smell the wind of sweat and hear the roar of machines? They might have no chance, as the three delegates seemed to have already been alienated from their brothers and sisters once into the Hall.

Blogger Zhang Chunyun concluded, from the news coverage, how the delegate Zhu, one of the three, has changed.

When the journalists asked Zhu how she made of the workers’ residence permit (Hukou), she replied just like a government spokeswoman. “Our country will make it done step by step, and you have to be patient.”

The residence permit, an inch-thick book, secludes China into two worlds —– the villages and the cities. People living in the two areas differed on what social security and what voting rights they enjoy, letting alone the policy discriminations long existed. Migrant workers are in-betweens, aliens of either system.

So has the withdrawal from their normal identities been found on the farmer delegate, Hao Fuxia. When answering what should government do, as she think, to guarantee the civil life and self-improving opportunities for farmers, she just equivocated that the situation was getting better and better.

Tao Li felt sorry for them.

How does Hu Xioayan, as a delegate of migrant workers, learn to deal with the public with eyewash? She’s so proficient in claptrap! I really wonder what on earth a migrant worker she is! Who is she speaking for?
As delegates, they should sincerely reflect the situation of their group, calling for the solution of fellow workers’ problems. No blandishment, please! But it seems that the training on them works so well. And how regretful to find no proposals have really argued for farmers, while there are 0.9 billion farmers in China!

And zyb00544 didn’t cover up that his hope on the grassroots delegates was undone.

I come to understand —- when a worker from the bottom of the society presents himself before the public as a delegate, he will involuntarily turn into a decoration instead of a grassroot as he used to be. If such political shows continue, then even if all the delegates were commons, it could do no help.

Start the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site