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Who Are These Guys Really Representing?

03-12 17:42 Caijing

Most of the reports were empty talk.

By staff reporter Chen Zhongxiaolu


(Caijing.com.cn) Most of my visits to the meetings of the NPC and CPPCC were to interview delegation members. After interviews, I would occasionally sit in for group discussions of local missions.


Even as a listener, I was consistently shocked by the speakers. The group discussions were all about flattery. To my surprise, some participants even said they found “beautiful style” and “fresh language” in the reports this year.


What impressed me most was a delegation head from a developed city. He improvised his opinions with professional speech manners. Here’s how the speech went: “March 2, I step out off the plane and feel drops of a spring rain. Not good weather in Beijing, I commented. The next day, I listened to the report of Premier Wen for two hours and 10 minutes. While following the 35 to 36 pages, I can hardly contain my great joy. Following the steps out of the Great Hall, I found that the sun shining and the sky decorated with fresh clouds. All my unhappiness had cleared, and I know it is all because of Premier Wen’s report….”


Before this shocking deputy, two other mayors from his province spoke. In their speeches, the two mayors fought for more recognition for stabilizing real estate prices amid the financial crisis. One is even proud of price increases in the real estate market in his city, regardless of the fact that common people are struggling to buy a house.


Why are these officials so afraid of price decreases? One mayor frankly disclosed in his speech that 40 percent of their taxes come from real estate income; obviously, this is a typical case in which a real estate developer kidnapped the government.


Flattery filled every corner during a three-hour discussion, without even a word to remind me that these are representatives of the general public. After the meeting, another scene showed a different side of the representatives.


A source told me that dancing parties and films were awaiting the delegation members on many evenings.


This is only on the surface. Once I overheard a delegation member talking on the phone, saying he had several dinner parties to attend that night.


Usually I visited the delegations after dinner time. But by experience I learned that important delegation members had not returned even by 10 p.m. The higher the rank, the later an official returned. Obviously, however, it was impossible for those delegation members to come here for sheer enjoyment. A local government official said frankly that it is an opportunity for them to maintain guanxi, or relations, with central government offices. One of my interviewees – a leader of a local government office -- asked to be relieved from the meeting with a “just and forceful” excuse that he had to maintain guanxi with higher authorities in his department.


In my eyes, most of the reports were empty talk. But there were some exceptions. I wanted to ask, who are you representing?


Full article in Chinese: http://www.caijing.com.cn/2009-03-12/110118903.html

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