Our Session on the Two Sessions
Mar. 12, 2012
By Tom Fearon and James Palmer
As the two sessions in Beijing near their end, Metro Beijing has taken a moment to deliberate some of the proposals that were put on the table, which have ranged from predictable, inspired and promising to nonsensical and outright bizarre. Here are the ones that particularly caught our attention and why.
English teaching should be postponed
Vice president of the Chinese Confucian Academy, Ling Zi, suggested that rather than learning English in kindergarten and primary school, children should learn more about traditional Chinese culture instead and English teaching should be postponed till middle school. Ling expressed that it is wrong to let kindergartens and primary schools have English classes because, during this golden period of learning, children should be taught their mother tongue and traditional culture more thoroughly than foreign languages.
This proposal directly contradicts everything we know about language learning. The earlier children start to learn a foreign language, the easier it is for them to do so. Delaying the process will only make it harder. While a certain cultural defensiveness is understandable, revitalizing native culture with a focus on regional traditions would be far more effective than crippling language teaching efforts in futile linguistic protectionism.
Charity Day and Thanksgiving Day should be added to the calendar
Huang Xihua, director of the Huizhou Tourism Administration, Guangdong Province, thinks that it is very important to carry forward the Lei Feng spirit, urging people to be more charitable, thankful and thoughtful as a community. Huang suggested that it's essential to establish a nationwide Charity Day. "We can take Guangdong's Aid the Poor Day as reference and choose June 30 as China's Charity Day," she said.
Huang also suggested that August 16 on the lunar calendar should be China's Thanksgiving Day.
China already suffers from something of an excess of meaningless festivals. Adding one more might help the greeting card industry, but little else.
Religion should not be a profitable enterprise
In light of the recent argument between Shaolin Temple and Henan authorities on the income and management of Shaolin Temple, Abbot Shi Yongxin has called for less commercialization of the temple. Indeed many other temples have been abused for business and tourist scandals have seriously damaged the image of them.
Shi also called for legislation to protect Songshan, where Shaolin Temple is located.
The Shaolin Temple has the undesirable reputation of being one of China's most pricey tourist attractions to visit and has evolved to become something of a kung-fu theme park where the only things missing are the rides. It has the potential to be much more given its stunning location, its world-class display of martial arts and its Chan Buddhist roots. However, its abuse at the hand of developers and peddlers looking to make a quick buck needs to be tackled first.
People should have moral records, not just criminal ones
Li Xiaolin, president of China Power International Development Limited, suggested that everyone should have a moral record, which will make them act better for fear of shame.
Li also expressed that many contradictions and problems exist in the country's economic development. "Problems exist in income distribution and adjustments to the patterns of economic development," she said. "We should intensify reform and solve these problems."
Perhaps everyone could get stickers showing whether they've been good or bad, like children in school. Save an elderly grandmother? Three smiley faces! Not giving your seat up to someone pregnant on the bus? Two demerits for you!
Public should share state-owned enterprises' profits
Wang Tian, an NPC deputy and chairman of the Bubugao Group, suggests the government should share the profits of state-owned enterprises with the public by issuing consumption vouchers. According to Wang, this will be a great boast to consumption.
If there's one thing hindering the further growth of people's livelihoods in China, it's that they don't share in the wealth of the country's industries riding the resources boom. State-owned enterprises shouldn't have the exclusive wealth of the environment that provides their oil, coal, gas and other natural resources. Currently the public is angered by not enough money trickling down, and by certain scandals relating to state-owned enterprises, so it makes sense to deal with this issue.
The south should get central heating
Zhang Xiaomei, the president of China Beauty, a fashion newspaper, suggested that central heating needs to be installed down south. Historically, only cities in northern China had central heating systems, since northern winters are much colder. However, southern China experiences very chilly and wet winters too, something which has become worse in recent years. Therefore extending the public heating system to southern China is reasonable.
Given changing global weather patterns, this is a very sensible proposal, although one probably best judged on a city-by-city basis. Despite freezing northern winters, people often have warmer houses in the north than down south.
Foreigners should join China's civil service
Chen Lijun, the president of Zhejiang Huari Industrial Investment, suggested that foreigners should work in the Chinese civil service. Many foreign countries have social service systems that have been developed over many decades, while China's is relatively young. As a result, many officials have no professional experience. Introducing experienced foreign talent into China's civil service will be beneficial.
This actually makes some sense, but finding people with both the necessary civil service experience in a given field and the language skills needed for such a position would be very hard. The single most efficient part of the civil service in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was the British-run post office, after all.
Diaoyu Islands' weather should be covered by CCTV
Zuo Zongsheng, president of Zongsheng Group in Chongqing, proposed that CCTV should cover the weather of the Diaoyu Islands during its primetime national weather forecast, to stress China's right to the islands.
These particular rocks might not currently have many residents, but that does not mean that they should not get their own CCTV coverage. In fact, while they are at it, they should extend weather forecasts to the Nansha and Xisha groups of islands.
Lei Feng radio should be established across China
A Lei Feng radio station should be set up in every province to help promote the spirit of Lei Feng. The establishment of such stations will expand media coverage of his merits and accelerate the process of building a civilized society.
One of the greatest detriments of cultural icon Lei Feng's legacy is that his selfless achievements are only promoted one day each year. What better way to ensure his spirit thrives all the time than by setting up Lei Feng radio stations? This proposal doesn't require any drastic revamp of radio broadcasting in China. Rather, just a good Samaritan makeover. Get rid of those brain-numbing hot 40 countdowns of the "coolest" Mandopop ballads and replace them with the Cultural Revolution hit "Learn from Lei Feng." People could even win Lei Feng t-shirts by calling up and boasting about their good deeds.
See the original article here.