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Do people care about the Party Congress? Does the Party Congress care about the people?

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Sing a mountain song for the Party.

Blogger Zhai Hua notes two different reports of "popular opinion" on the 17th Party Congress. The first is a short interview between a VOA reporter and a student at Peking Unversity:

Reporter: I'm with the media. I'd like to ask you about your opinion on the 17th Congress.
Student: What?
Reporter: The 17th Congress. Do you know what the 17th Congress is?
Student: I'm not sure.
Reporter: What's the 17th Congress?
Student: The 17th National People's Congress session.
Reporter: No.
Student: Then what is it?
Reporter: The National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
Student: Isn't that pretty much the same thing?

Zhai contrasts this with a CCTV Network News broadcast in which reporters ask other citizens for their opinions:

Fujian farmer: The 17th Party Congress is about to begin. We are all waiting in anticipation. The past few years, the building of a new countryside has brought bigger changes to our mountain, and our lives have gotten better and better. We want to express our feelings through this mountain song....

Jilin rural woman: Oh, we're so happy! Us farmers are really attentive to the 17th Congress...

He continues:

The interviews by VOA and CCTV reporters are aimed differently; the PKU student's "not sure" stands in stark contrast to the northeastern rural woman's "so happy," but they're both fairly one-sided and misdirected. The Social Survey Institute of China recently conducted a national opinion poll in major cities whose goal was to gain an understanding of the public's attention to the 17th Congress and what the public was most concerned about during this time frame. The results showed that 94.5% of respondents were "very interested" or "rather interested" [in the Congress]; only 5.5% of respondents said they were "uninterested." The results also showed that finance, the rising price of goods, social security, employment, protection of democratic rights and property interests, the housing market, the wage gap, the Taiwan issue, corruption, and social order are the top ten problems that the people are concerned about. Among these, the questions of finance, rising prices, and social security were the top three issues that the public was concerned with; they each were mentioned by more than 80% of respondents. It's worth mentioning that more than 80% of the public believes that the 17th Party Congress can increase the party's understanding of people's lives and highlight the people's livelihood.

In sum, rather than investigating how concerned the people are about the 17th Party Congress, it's probably more valuable to look into whether the 17th Party Congress is concerned with the public.

Tim Johnson, McClatchy's Beijing bureau chief, blogged about a recent press conference prior to the Party Congress in which a spokesperson attempted to convey how concerned the party is with the public:

The final question from a Singapore reporter was this: Pollution and land disputes in China are getting worse. Social conflicts appear to be escalating. Could you release the latest figures regarding these social conflicts?

Li did not answer that question. Instead, he described social unrest in China as "only regional and individual." In the larger picture, he said, "the majority of people have enjoyed real benefits from reform and opening up."
...
"Now in China, the economy grows, there is social progress and the people enjoy higher and higher living standards. The people are satisfied. Thank you.”

Some delegates are communicating with the public through blogs. Xinhua journalist Han Song notes that "some of the delegates' blogs have a rather different flavor from normal blogs, just like the definite differences that would exist between Martians' blogs and Earthlings'." He concludes:

I'm worried for the blogging delegates. Will people go to their superiors and report them, saying that they're blogging when they should be working? I've learned this profound lesson myself.

However, having seen that so many 17th Party Congress delegates are determined to blog, I'm more than a little relieved. The people need us to blog. And can you blame them? An all-round well-off society cannot be a blogless well-off society.

Interested in reading delegates' blogs? People Online is currently featuring three delegates: Luo Chengyou, Zheng Xuejun, and Zhang Hemin.

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There are currently 7 Comments for Do people care about the Party Congress? Does the Party Congress care about the people?.

Comments on Do people care about the Party Congress? Does the Party Congress care about the people?

I remember when I was teaching at a college near Beijing when the 16th Party Congress was going on. I asked my co-workers (Chinese, college grads) what they thought about it. Much like the PKU student, many seemed unaware, or barely aware that it was taking place. Many simply didn't care at all.

But, unless you are in Hong Kong, or somewhere where there are great magazines/newspapers about current Chinese politics (and all the fighting that goes on behind the scenes), all you would see is the bright, flower-y, red facade of unity. So, it is understandable.

I'm surprised the author didn't consider one reason the farmer was "so happy" was that he/she had been picked to say that by the Chinese Propaganda Network, sorry CCTV. You don't really think Chinese TV would broadcast someone saying what the VOA reporter heard, do you?!

If you pick a random person I'm sure the response would be more "huh?" than anything else.

Raj: I think this article was written for people like you who are smart enough to work that out for themselves.

Vivian Wu and He Huifeng of the South China Morning Post interviewed ordinary folk in Beijing and Shenzhen about their take on the congress. Here are the comments that were published:

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Beijing television director Wang Nan , 29, said that as an ordinary person she cared more about possible traffic jams brought on by the event than the congress itself.

"Voting in the one-party-ruled meeting is just for show, and the results are already set. If it were a meeting between two parties, that would be more interesting to me," she said.

"Maybe those with power and money interests will care more about who will be the next generation of Politburo members."

Farmers' rights activist Xu Jinchuan , from Shandong , said he had been hopeful before watching Mr Hu's report that agricultural policies would be improved.

"Many of the points mentioned in Hu's speech are aimed at improving people's livelihoods," he said.

"But a loss of farmland and the resulting unemployment concerns many farmers, especially when their rights can't be safeguarded in corrupt local courts.

"Landless farmers are full of grudges because without land, sufficient harvests and a secure income, our quality of life has actually deteriorated compared with the 1980s and 1990s, when farmers benefited from reform policies in rural areas."

But Shenzhen electrical engineer Zhuo Yi found cause for enthusiasm in Mr Hu's words.

"I feel excited to hear Hu pledge to increase spending on independent innovation and making breakthroughs in key technologies vital to economic and social development," he said. "Hu's words give us his promise that the government will invest time and money into moving China from a polluting, low-tech manufacturing base into an innovative centre of hi-tech industry."

But Mr Zhuo worried that the efforts might be hijacked by soaring living costs and property prices.

"If technology companies and their staff have to spend most of their time and energy fighting against inflation, how can they devote themselves to industrial innovation?" he asked.

Self-employed Beijing businessman Xi Ming , 33, was concerned with how the party would implement efficient policies to enhance social security for ordinary people. He said did not see much relevance in Mr Hu's report.

"It's harder to make money and maintain a well-off, secure life, especially for young people, who have the burden of rising medical, educational and housing costs and have to take care of the aged," he said.

"In the meantime, I don't believe the party can ensure an efficient government to solve these problems without radically getting rid of official corruption prevailing in various areas."

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http://www.scmp.com/portal/site/SCMP/menuitem.2af62ecb329d3d7733492d9253a0a0a0/?vgnextoid=dc81565fb94a5110VgnVCM100000360a0a0aRCRD&ss=China&s=News

Is this really important. The world is about to end, why does anyone bother anyhow. Just get busy and try to get with any woman who you can, spend all your money and stop thinking, waste of time! Decadence...

i am a former PKU student from 2001-2007, and i think the VOA reporter didn't find a real PKU student at all. every student of PKU must pass the National College Exams, in which there is politic exam. hard to think about that a PKU student doesn't know the difference between the Party and the State.

Most people in China must be intrested in the 17th Party Congress. Although this is a one-party-ruled country, everyone who lives in it largely depend on the decisions which were made by the members of the Politburo. Our life is boundup with them. Actually, the economic of China is booming, the sociaity is becoming more harmonious. As long as we stick to the scientific outlook of development, people's livelihood will become better than better. Official corruption exists anywhere all around of the world. We must fight against it. So long as there is hope with our country, we will be happy and benefit from the results of the opening and reforming.

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