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Rachel Lu

Chinese Web Users View List of Their Representatives and Ask: Who Are These People?

The Great Hall of the People in Beijing will soon host China’s National People’s Congress. (kafka4prez/Flickr)

On February 27, People’s Daily posted a long list containing 2,987 names on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter. These names are completely unknown to the average Chinese person, yet these are the supposed elected representatives of China’s 1.3 billion people. They will attend the National People’s Congress (NPC), an event of considerable pomp that will be held in Beijing in early March.

In a post accompanying the list, People’s Daily wrote, “In the next five years, they will represent us, and be subject to our oversight.”

China’s Internet users immediately rejected the Daily’s suggestion that those on the list are anything more than rubber stamps. Most commentators to the post asked “Who are they? How did they come out of nowhere to represent me?”

“I have never voted for anyone to represent me. I have never even seen what a ballot looks like. How could I elect anyone?” one social media user fumed. Another quipped, “Hello representatives. Congratulations on being selected into the club of power. All the best to you. I wonder how many of you will be unseated soon by scandals?” @非哲 tweeted, “I refuse to be represented. In this information age, I speak for myself.”

The list contains at least one familiar name, that of Shen Jilan, whom Tea Leaf Nation profiled last year as “the longest serving rubberstamp” in the NPC, who has held her seat since the days of the Great Leap Forward.

The list also  includes 13 representatives from Taiwan, which draw some curiosity from China’s Internet users. In fact, none of the supposed representatives of Taiwan’s 23 million people was born in Taiwan except the wife of former World Bank chief economist Justin Yifu Lin, who defected from Taiwan to the People’s Republic.

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Rachel Lu

Rachel Lu is a co-founder of Tea Leaf Nation. Rachel traces her ancestry to Southern China. She spent much of her childhood memorizing Chinese poetry. After long stints in New York, New Haven and Cambridge, she has returned to China to bear witness to its great transformation. She is currently based in China.
  • China Newz

    Maybe they are known only in their rural village or small city. Ask most Americans who represents them in Congress and they don’t have a clue.

  • Hua Qiao

    @China Newz

    At least the Americans have the chance to throw the bums out. I have many mainland friends and none has ever had the chance to vote. So the Peoples Daily should knock it off and stop pretending there is democracy when there isn’t.

  • Charles Liu

    Rachel, do you fact check? The Ren Da rep you mention, Shen Jilan, is elected.

    Try to Baidu these key terms “长治 人大 换届选举” (You’ll see the town Shen is from elects Ren Da rep), or “申纪兰 换届选举” (you’ll see Shen is directly elected by her village, and indirectly elected to the City People’s Congress and the NPC).

    What our media never mentions is China’s NPC goes thru a “sausage making” process of indirect elections to generate national level representation. Sure, some politicians win time after time – don’t we also have decades long members of the US Congress and Senate?