A Chinese high-school student tells me that his political-science teacher once showed off a photo of a ballot in class and confessed to the students that she’d never seen one up close. When one of the students asked when China would start using ballots in elections, the teacher answered, “Never.”
There are no political campaigns in China. Elections happen very quietly: There are no scandals, no town-hall meetings, and certainly no campaign speeches. In fact, there is no Election Day—on a certain date, some people are told they should go and vote.
Director Zhang Yimou proposed that money be allocated from the national budget for more movie theaters. (And if his proposal gets more people to see his movies, so be it.)
This state of affairs never seemed to bother the Chinese people that much; after all, for the past 5,000 years, no one has ever voted for anything. As government officials will proudly tell anyone: “It’s not the Chinese way.”
But this year, people are changing. For starters, we’ve noticed that our legislators are morons. The bills they’ve proposed are a reflection of their pea-size brains.
China actually does have a parliament, which is, like America’s, made up of two separate houses. One is called the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Delegates don’t have to be members of the Communist Party to sit in the CPPCC, but they do need to be invited by the Chinese Communist Party. The other one is the National People’s Congress, whose members are elected, sort of, by the people. The way it works is the government and the party have a special nomination committee to select the candidates. Then citizens “vote” on those candidates.
Here is a taster’s platter of some of the most idiotic bills proposed in China this year:
Zhang Xiaomei, a delegate to the CPPCC and owner of a chain of beauty salons, proposed that women should be able to get paid time off when they get their period. (OK, maybe this idea isn’t the worst.) Her second proposal: The government should force husbands to pay their wives for housework. Zhang also wants China to have more beauty salons and the equivalent of a bar exam for all beauticians.
Zhang Yimou, director of the international hit movie Hero and also a member of the CPPCC, proposed that money be allocated from the national budget for the construction of more movie theaters. (And if his proposal gets more people to see his movies, so be it.)
The award for top moron goes to Yan Qi, a delegate to the CPPCC who owns a chain of Sichuan restaurants called Taoranju. She proposed that China ban the Internet, saying she’d received a letter from a mother complaining about Internet cafes around the country. Yan’s prize? Hackers destroyed her restaurant’s Web site.
What can I say? We’ve got a long way to go.
Huang Hung is a columnist for China Daily, the English language newspaper in China. She is also an avid blogger with more than 100 million page views on her blog on sina.com.