Standout quotes from China’s political meetings: the outspoken, the revealing, and the totally bizarre
March 8, 2012Jing Gao6 Commentsausterity, central heating, China railway high speed, Chinese cinema, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, cppcc, Death row, Diaoyu Islands, disclosure of assets, eugenics, extravagance, film, film industry, frugality, leftover woman, marriageable age, Ministry of Health, national people's congress, npc, Organ trade, organ transplant, prostitution, red classics, red songs, Senkaku Islands, state-owned enterprises, steel price, steve jobs, two sessions, xenocentric, xenophilia
The “Two Sessions,” as you may commonly hear from news about China during each March, are the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislative body, and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a political advisory body consisting of delegates from a range of political parties and organizations. It does not make any sense to stay tuned in to Chinese news programs for as long as they run, for most of the rhetoric gets repeated over the years and is hard to sit through without dozing off or playing with some digital gadgets (Just look at photo montages above: so many “two sessions” attendees were hypnotized by the humdrum and/or needed to kill time). But it does help you get a better understanding of Chinese politics and society if you read our digest.
“We should have a file on every citizen’s morality to hold them on a leash, ”
Li Xiaolin, CEO of China Power International Development, CPPCC member, said, “Everyone should have an idea of what shame is.” (Yes, you remember it correctly. She is the Emilio Pucci-wearing lady we featured two days ago.)
“Organs of death-row inmates are the main source of organs in China,”
Huang Jiefu, deputy minister for health, said in the CPPCC session that organ shortage is the bottleneck in development of China’s organ transplantation. Due to the lack of voluntary donations, executed prisoners are still the main source of organs used in transplant operations in China. China will soon launch an organ transplant response system with support from the Ministry of Health and Red Cross China.
“Public disclosure of officials’ assets is a matter of resolve,”
Chi Fulin, CPPCC member, said, “disclosure of personal net worth should start from government officials, then corruption will no longer be a problem. The disclosure of officials’ assets may need to be done step by step, but there is no technical problem. Nor is legislating it difficult. It is just a matter of resolve (or lack thereof).”
“Marriageable age should be lowered to 18,”
Huang Xihua, delegate to NPC, said that the current marriageable age, which is set at 22 for males and 20 for females, is “the highest threshold in Chinese history”, and contributes to increases in a host of phenomena, such as “leftover men and women”, late motherhood, cohabitation before marriage. She said lowering marriageable age protects rights of minors and young adults in common-law marriages, reduces risk in pregnancy and childbirth, and is therefore good for promoting eugenics.
“Halting high-speed rail construction results in a loss of RMB 1 bln per month,”
Mao Guifen, delegate to NPC, said. A shortage in funding has delayed construction of over 10,000 kilometers of high-speed rail line, causing China to lose on average one billion yuan (US$158 million) per month. The problem of unsettled payments to migrant workers is looming, and it may trigger a series of problems.
“The state pays expenses for going abroad, whoring and gambling. The people find it unacceptable. So do I,”
Wang Chaobin, CPPCC member, said, “Those working at state-owned enterprises hold feasts, and the state pays; they buy cars and fill up gas, and the state pays; they even go abroad, go whoring and gambling, and the state still pays. Besides, they get a really decent pay. The national system does not allow them to do so. The people find it unacceptable; the society finds it unacceptable; I, as a CPPCC member, find it even more acceptable!”
“If we slightly change our lifestyle, saving several hundred billion a year will not be a problem.”
Li Jinhua, CPPCC Vice Chairman, said, “Whereas people are furious at corruption, they are not bothered by extravagance and waste.” He suggests that frugality and austerity should be included as part of the government plan, “If we could just be a little more frugal and slightly change our lifestyle, saving several hundred billion a year will not be a problem.”
“Legalization of prostitution is being responsible for the people,”
Chi Susheng, delegate to NPC, said that the existence of prostitution has significantly decreased the incidence of crime, such as rape. When prostitution is strictly forbidden, the rate of rape crime is indeed high. This is fact. “Legalization of prostitution is a motion that comes out of responsibility to the people. No matter how the society is going to judge me, I feel no qualms.”
“Weather in Diaoyu Islands should be added into the CCTV weather forecast,”
Zuo Zongshen, CPPCC member, said, “Diaoyu Islands have always been a Chinese territory, just like Taiwan, and is an inalienable part of Chinese sovereignty. Adding Diaoyu Islands to the CCTV weather forecast is to let people in the entire world know that China claims absolute sovereignty over Diaoyu Islands!” (Note: Diaoyu, or Senkaku Islands, are a group of uninhabited islands controlled by Japan in the East China Sea, whose ownership of the islands by Japan has been heavily disputed by both China and Taiwan.)
“There is nothing China can’t make,”
Wan Gang, minister of sci-tech and CPPCC vice chairman, said in response to import restrictions imposed on China’s high-rech products by foreign countries, “Right now we are exporting advanced technological products. To put it crudely, it is not because we can’t make them. It’s simply that we are not making them. Now that we are capable of going into the space and delving into the sea,there is nothing we can’t do.”
“The government is not able to manufacture a Steve Jobs,”
Xu Guanhua, CPPCC member, said. Last year, the local government of Ningbo, Zhejiang province, vowed to invest RMB 50 million to hammer out 10 Steve Jobses within five years. Xu said, The idea of the government manufacturing a Steve Job is itself a non-starter. “How can Steve Jobs be manufactured? The government can’t. He is created within a market environment. In working on science and technology, the government should not try to help a seedling grow by pulling it upward.”
“Deleting red classics from textbooks is a betrayal of revolutionary elders,”
He Jiesheng, CPPCC member, said, “Singing red songs gives us inspiration and power. Now red classics, such as ‘Zhu De’s Shoulder Pole’ and ‘Five Martyrs of Langya Mountain’, have been deleted from textbooks used for high school and elementary school. This is a betrayal of revolutionary elders.”
“Some movie-goers do occasionally have the xenocentric mentality,”
Song Chunli, actress and CPPCC member, said, “Why our home-made movies sometimes have no audience? This is worth thinking. Though I should not judge, but of course it can’t be ruled out that a small part of the audience do sometimes have the mentality of blindly worshiping anything foreign, and do not appreciate products of our own nation.”
“Price of one kilo of steel is lower than that of 200 grams of pork,”
Deng Qilin, Manager of Wuhan Steel Group and delegate to NPC, said that the company plans to invest RMB 39 billion in pig farming. She said this is not a whimsical notion, but part of a plan company diversification. “Making steel is not as good as selling pork.” Shortage in iron ore and rising costs of logistics have squeezed the profit margin to smaller than 3 %, far below the average of 6.5% for the national industrial enterprises. The average price of steel is 4.7 yuan per kg, far less than the lowest 26-yuan-per-kg price of pork.
“The central heating system should be extended to South China,”
Zhang Xiaomei, CPPCC member, said. South China has suffered several cold winters in recent years. She said that the South has much moisture in the winter. A temperature around zero Celsius there is actually even hard for people to stand than minus 5 degrees in the North, where the winter is dry. The policy that heating is limited to the area North of a line from Qinling Mountains to Huaihe River, which was demarcated in 1950s, is way out of date, she said.