here can be few honours greater than having your hometown dedicate a statue to you, especially when you are still alive. But the decision to immortalise Shen Jilan in bronze has proven controversial. The 84 year-old is the only delegate to the National People’s Congress (NPC) to have attended every one of its sessions. To commemorate the achievement, Shen’s hometown of Pingshun in Shanxi put a statue of her in Model Workers’ Plaza.
So why has it caused a fuss among netizens? As WiC has reported before (see issue 98), Shen famously declared that she has never voted ‘no’ at the NPC, i.e. opposed any government decisions. According to the Southern Metropolis Daily there is even a popular jingle about Shen that mocks her unwavering support of the Party line: “She voted in favour of the Great Leap Forward, voted in favour of the people’s commune, voted in favour of the Cultural Revolution, voted in favour of anti-Liu Shaoqi and anti-Deng Xiaoping; and then voted in favour of the anti-Great Leap Forward, the anti-people’s commune, the anti-Cultural Revolution, the vindication of Liu Shaoqi and the vindication of Deng Xiaoping. She lives in this world in order to vote yes.”
One wry netizen said that the statue should be marked with the statement: “The symbol of Chinese democracy.”
However, Shanxi’s provincial Party Secretary Yuan Chunqing defended the statue, as well as Shen’s record describing her as “the pride of the people of Shanxi”. Shen justifies her own voting record thus: “I speak for the masses, not for myself. If I vote no, because I personally don’t think it right, I will make a mistake.”
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