Wednesday saw the conclusion of the meeting of the big wigs at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, with Xi Jinping reigning as the new general secretary of China. Since Thursday, 2270 of China’s leaders met to discuss the future of China and decide who will be going forward as the Party Secretary (the leader of China) and part of the all powerful Politburo Standing Committee. But don’t get too excited, as it’s really just a performance of sorts. Significant decisions are determined beforehand and most of it is just for show, kind of like wax fruit or the potpourri in your bathroom.
So what is the point of staging such a large, grand meeting and why is it so meticulously done?
It’s the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) thorough and systematic method of enforcing their rule through telling the people what they should think and know. The thing is, with the progress of information platforms, the Chinese people are starting to notice. This year’s leadership meeting coincided with the U.S. Presidential Elections and offered a huge contrast to the Chinese citizens’ lack of involvement; they aren’t just denied a right to vote, but also the right to have their opinions be heard. Pre-meeting, online search engines are heavily guarded with terms such as “18th Party Congress” or Chinese leader names banned from being typed or searched. The only thing people can do is watch the progress on TV and wait for the result. It’s no wonder when many were celebrating in the streets for Obama, there is a resounding silence and a void of excitement on that side of the world.
To add insult to injury, Chinese media has been reporting seemingly scripted commentary from Chinese officials, while real citizens go unheard. Chinese netizens laughed/complained/yelled about the ordeal. “Chinese media reported that the crowd broke into thunderous applause 38 times. Who was ordered to sit there and count? How laughable! Were your hands numb last night from clapping?”
He Guiqin, a Community Party Deputy, spoke of her excitement during the Party Congress. She said she couldn’t stop crying, and clapped until her hands were numb.
In this news video from Beijing Television, a deputy cried when he started reading a poem he wrote about the 18th Congress. A poem? The poem says “I found it! I found it! A new hope in my heart. I found it at noon on November 8th; found it on the stage of the Great Hall of the People; found it in President Hu Jintao’s strong voice; found it from the 38 applause like thunder; found it from 64 pages report of the 18th Party Congress. I finally found it, my new hope.”
One netizen asked “What did you really find?!” Some other netizens called him a hired “flatterer” of the Communist Party. Some others sarcastically joked, “He was using a magnifier to look for hope, which is not easy for him.” Many others found his flattery sickening. Just as the balance of power is tipped in China, apparently so is the hope and enthusiasm.