China’s parliament meets

A host of good information about the ‘two sessions’ this year: the National People’s Congress and the China People’s Political Consultative Conference (modelled on and modified from the Soviet Union’s two levels of government). The main site is here, with plenty of links for those interested. Apart from noting that both houses are elected (see also here) and that the president is also elected by the NPC, I am particularly drawn to the following:

  1. The increased focus on the reduction of poverty in China. Thus far, some 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty, which is described by Tom Zwart, of the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights Research, as one of the greatest human rights achievements of all time. This of course is part of the Chinese Marxist approach to human rights, in which the right of economic wellbeing looms large.
  2. Closely related is Xi Jinping’s focus on poverty reduction, drawing from none other than his experience in an impoverished village during the Cultural Revolution.
  3. Xi Jinping also made a specific call on intellectuals to redouble their efforts to contribute to China’s wellbeing. Of note is the following, close to my heart: 

    “The whole society should care for and respect intellectuals and cultivate a favorable environment that honors knowledge and intellectuals, Xi said, adding that authorities must fully trust intellectuals and seek their advice on key work and policies.

    Xi hoped the intellectuals can consciously take the lead in practicing socialist core values and stick to the principle of putting the interests of the nation and the people before everything else.”

If you are interested in further reading, I recommend highly Xi Jinping’s The Governance of China. It contains statements and speeches up to 2014. I have been gathering more material since then, but I expect that another volume will be published soon. Apart from the clear indications of China’s direction, it also continues the extraordinary communist tradition where leaders are also thinkers and writers.




Voting in the Racist Election

One of the downsides to getting internet access again is catching up the news regarding the Australian election on Saturday, 21 August. If 2007 was the first environmental election in the world – as commentators outside the parochial scene of Aussie politics put it – then this one would have to be the racist election, with each side trying to outdo each other on keeping those dreadful boat people out.

It hate to say it, but I was skeptical about the promise that Rudd seemed to give people back in 07. People poo-pooed me, saying Rudd and Labor would make a difference. But now the disillusion is palpable. As I pointed out in Rescuing the Bible, within parliamentary systems like Australia we really have only one mega-party, the pro-capitalist party. It has various wings and factions, who like to call themselves liberal, labour, conservative, national and so forth. But each one argues that it can provide the best conditions for capitalism to flourish. Tomorrow we get to choose between the Labor faction, led by prime minister Julia Gillard, and the curiously named Liberal-National faction, led by Tony Abbott. I’d rather be tarred and feathered than see Abbott win, but it is a long shot for him to do so. Gillard is a shade better, but not by much.

So here’s a tip. Labor under Gillard wins 75 seats in a 150 seat house, Liberal-National 71, country independents (National renegades) 3 and the Greens 1 – the seat of Melbourne which they may well take from Labor. Gillard will have a minority government, requiring the Green MP to get anything through. And the Greens will for the first time be able to propose legislation. Even better, the Greens, polling at times close to 20%, should win the balance of power in the proportionally represented Senate.

No guesses for where my vote is going.