And Finally

Talking shop

Chinese parliament’s more ridiculous proposals

A student holds a placard showing the name of his class as he leaves school with his classmates at an elementary school in Beijing

Should boys go to school aged 8?

Three years into Xi Jinping’s campaign to clean up and strengthen China’s ruling Communist Party, the message to lawmakers at the annual parliamentary meet was clear: keep your proposals loyal, people-centred, and sensible.

But some delegates clearly didn’t get the memo. Though the number of silly motions was down on previous years, there was still a smattering of proposals that caused consternation.

Top of the list was the proposal to legislate against the construction of more Disneylands in China. That idea was tabled by Li Xiusong, a member of the Anhui delegation to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an advisory body to the lawmaking National People’s Congress (NPC).

Mainland China’s first Disneyland opens to the public in Shanghai in June. But Li tried to couch his dislike of the American theme park in patriotic terms – saying it “damages traditional Chinese culture”.

To most it seemed that Li was trying to promote his province’s own amusement park Tales of the East. “You are only talking about Disneyland because it is bad for you. No need to bad mouth other places. Just promote your own park openly,” wrote one irritated weibo user.

Another CPPCC delegate to provoke the ire of netizens was Zhu Xiaojin, vice president of Nanjing Normal University, who suggested boys should start school two years later than girls to protect their self-confidence.

His logic was that girls develop faster than boys, meaning they do better in the first few years of school. Zhu maintains this does irreparable damage to the male psyche and makes boys “lose at the starting line”.

Instead he says boys should be allowed to “run around and play” until they are eight when Mr Zhu says they have enough maturity to sit in class.

“This is not gender discrimination. I went to school at age six and there were a lot of good girl students around. I had low self-esteem when comparing myself to them,” Caixin Weekly quoted him as saying.

But netizens didn’t seem convinced. “Is he planning on creating free kindergartens as well? What will I do with my kid until he is eight?” asked one bemused mum.

Another proposal which seemed to interfere with the public’s personal lives – to introduce a three-month cooling-off period in divorces – also got short shrift from netizens.

But the idea which seemed the creepiest – given the recent return to old style Party rhetoric and practices – was to make the Mao suit compulsory dress for occasions like the Two Sessions (a reference to the NPC and CPPCC meetings, from which the proposal came).

To be fair it was a member of the Chinese Kuomintang Party who suggested it, in honour of Sun Yatsen – the early revolutionary leader who first popularised collared jackets and flat-fronted trousers.

Like many of the 8,609 proposals tabled at this year’s Two Sessions it wasn’t acted upon.

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