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Chinese Politics and the NPC

Friday, March 13th, 2009

11th_2ndnpc

NATIONAL PEOPLE’S CONGRESS - Let’s admit it. We’ve been watching closely the NPC, we read all the material available and we have written about it. And yet, this year again, we have no clue what the NPC is for. According to their own website, the NPC has legislative functions, so we tend to compare it to a Western parliament.  Some Chinese have compared it to a Carnival instead, and Party top leader Wu Bangguo has stated very clearly:

“The people’s congress exercises state power in a unified way”, that is  “different from the Western model, which separates the powers of the 3 departments.”

His speech asserted that “China will never copy the Western political systems”,  going to great lengths to explain the advantages of the “socialist system”. No separation of powers, that is the key. He could have saved the effort and drafted a shorter speech: “We will continue to monopolize the power because we think it is the best for our country (and for us)”. Which feels very much like a direct response to Wen Jiabao’s political reform statements 5 days earlier during the same Congress.

I will leave the high level tea leave reading to the professionals, but I count already two hardline statements from top level politburo members in less than a month, while Wen JiaBao’s constant democratic initiatives get little echo. I am of the opinion that Wen is untouchable this year, while economic and political hazards require the full support of the Chinese people to the party. But as soon as the danger is past, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him unexpectedly retire.

The case of the looted statues

Friday, March 13th, 2009

I am going to spice up my blog by providing some first hand opinion on my weekly tour of the Sinosphere. These are mostly comments that I’ve done previously in other forums and I collect here. I will try to do this every week, subject to the rate at which my brain can churn out opinions.

THE TAMADE STATUES - We have heard more than enough of those ugly statues that are clearly not worth the noise, so I will be brief. Here’s what the forums say.  On the West side: it’s a clever PR coup by the CPC;  on the East side: indignation, history, insults and record participation.  In the middle, the French, who are so used to being bashed by both Americans and Chinese for any possible reason that they don’t seem to mind  anymore.

I can understand the indignation of the Chinese public, these statues have come to symbolize the humiliation of the colonial times.  But I am sure that, regardless of the legal basis, the Chinese government could use some of its famous patience, diplomacy and political leverage to get those lumps of bronze safely back home were they belong. And, in the long term, to reach a general agreement for the repatriation of art works.

The trouble is:  that would’t solve the problem.  Because this is not about art, it is about national honour and about a debt with the past. And the past, however unjust it may have been, is not ours to change anymore. So some excited Chinese just need to get over these things. Carrying your wounded country in your heart is romantic and tempting, but in the long term it only leads to blindness, conflict, and the neglecting of important issues.

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