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Running Dog lifts his leg on Tiananmen Square, with 'nuf respect

Running Dog is the pseudonym of a blogging foreign correspondent who occasionally published his own essays on a website that is something like a blog. His writing is brutally funny, and completely without the cheese-inducing influence of an editor in London or New York. He is also an infrequent contributor to Danwei.

Running Dog has written a piece about the National People's Congress, one of the 'Two Meetings' currently happening in Beijing.

It's brilliant. Read it!

If you are outside China, go to Running Dog's website and read A game of Jenga played at gunpoint. If you are inside the clammy embrace of China's Net Nanny, the whole piece is reproduced below:

A game of Jenga played at gunpoint

Running Dog wanders into the National People's Congress

STUMBLING UP the steps of the Great Hall of the People, caked in sweat after wandering desperately around Tian'anmen Square on an unseasonably warm March morning as he searched for a gap in the police cordon, Running Dog realized that journalism, as such, wasn't really for him. After three hours of twitching and mumbling grumpily to himself during the opening speech of the National People's Congress by Premier Wen Jiabao, quickly followed by the sight of various media comrades, holding their mikes and notepads like knives and forks and pouring enthusiastically out of the Great Hall's doors in order to rugby-tackle, head-lock and in at least one case paralyze fleeing delegates in the search for the all-elusive Golden Quote, Running Dog was even more convinced that he ought to change his profession.

Still, it could be worse. As Premier Wen pointed out in his speech, if you are an ordinary proletarian in China, you face the risk of unemployment, or worse, being blown up in a mine or a firework factory or torn to shreds by industrial equipment. As for the farmers, they're either fighting off the deserts in the parched northwest, or they are flooded and made destitute in the hydropower-obsessed southwest and choked to death by noxious emissions across the eastern seaboard. These, the government admits, are the major challenges in the coming years.

The theme of the meetings, and of the new Eleventh Five-Year Plan, was the betterment of the masses and the creation of a 'prosperous' and 'harmonious' society under the 'correct' leadership of Hu Jintao and the guiding principles of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory and the Three Represents. The next five years, said Wen - after three long hours of stats and declarations punctuated by the occasional flourish of boilerplate rhetoric, delivered across the Hall in a falsetto that Wen's thin voice could barely support - would be crucial, and difficult, but 'our targets must be met! Our targets can be met!'

The clement weather seemed, for a while, to be more than a coincidence. A colleague pointed out that in January, Beijing mysteriously darkened after five days of flawless blue. The fact that the municipal government had announced that its 'blue sky' targets for the month had been met might lead one to suspect that the government had cynically ordered the city's biggest polluters to switch off for a week in order to demonstrate that the air quality was improving. Running Dog's suspicious mind began to wonder what the local authorities had done to ensure the good weather during the Two Meetings, when more than 5,000 delegates had arrived in the capital city to go shopping and rubber-stamp umpteen policy documents.

But this was ridiculous, and the bigger theme of the meeting, it seemed to Running Dog, was the almost plaintive tone of the new Plan, with much of the economy now beyond its command. The opening ceremony, with all its brass-band bombast, its gold brocades, its red carpets, was designed to show that the Party was still in charge, and the Five-Year Plan was designed to show that the government has everything under control as it switches seemlessly from the 'get-rich-quick' imperatives of the Jiang Zemin era to the caring, sharing age of Hu and Wen. In fact, the forces of gravity, inertia and human nature might have more of a say in the next five years. As everyone concerned tries to continue to pile on the economic growth, like a game of Jenga played at gunpoint, the smart money seems to be on some sort of bracing economic 'correction' in the not-too-distant future. All countries go through them, so what makes China so different? Meanwhile, as parts of the central government continue to try to shore up the country's teetering social and financial infrastructure, the regions - backed, it seems, by the surviving remnants of the Shanghai Faction - merely pile on more weight. It is going to be tough, and Running Dog wishes them luck.

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