Delegates should be the voice of the voiceless

By Li Xiguang
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, March 5, 2012
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Li Xiguang is director of Tsinghua University International Center for Communication. [File photo]

Li Xiguang is director of Tsinghua University International Center for Communication. [File photo]

With National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's political advisory body, now in session in Beijing, the delegates to the two sessions are busy publishing their reform proposals.

The grass roots and middle class account for roughly 95 percent of the Chinese society, and as both the driving force and instigators of the reform led by the Communist Party of China, they should be the principal beneficiaries of the country's reform and development. It stands to reason, then, that NPC deputies and CPPCC members should listen to their views and ensure that their opinions are voiced, rather than the opinions of the wealthy elite.

The success of reform, though, is not measured by how loud slogans are shouted or how many followers a cause has. It is measured by such factors as improvements in people's standard of living, narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor as well as between urban and rural areas and the east and the west of the country.

However, in this age of new media and rapidly-proliferating communication channels, different interest groups attempt to manipulate public opinion, often by sensationalizing events and points of view. As a result, it's often hard for the NPC deputies and CPPCC members to get real, balanced and comprehensive information for their proposals.

At present, popular commercial and web media represent sponsors and investors, not the public. As one website manager put it: In the capital-driven cyber world, the fight is for profit, not for morality.

Meanwhile, with the proliferation of social networking, the news lifecycle is getting shorter and shorter. Editors and journalists have less time to investigate and research stories. They have no time to present a complete picture of China's social reality. Most of the fast news provided by twitter or other social networking sites is as nourishing to the mind as fast food is to the body. But NPC deputies and CPPCC members, who are supposed to represent people from all walks of life, need real, complete, balanced and in-depth news, which usually takes time.

When testing whether or not their reform proposals are based in truth and have genuine social value, delegates should hold fast to the principle and practice of listening to the opinions of the people they represent. If they only listen to the loudest voices in the media, they will merely become the puppets of those looking to manipulate public opinion, for whatever reason.

A pyramid has formed in Chinese society since the reform and opening up policy was implemented more than 30 years ago. Different people in different social strata have their own understanding of what reform means. The main question on people's lips is: In a political "club" which is organized by society's elite, is there someone in this club who is expressing my views on what shape reform should take?

Those who are not able to express their views will not be heard by those formulating policy, as their views will not expressed by the media. As a result, NPC deputies and CPPCC members must ensure that the desire of such people to live happy and fulfilled lives is fully understood by those formulating and implementing reform.

This article was originally published in Chinese and translated by Li Shen.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of


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