Chinese parliament delegates call for ‘warm bums’, less Western influence, more local cuisine

Presenting ideas gives delegates rare chance to be heard by nation’s leaders

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 7:55pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 11:39pm

Doubling China’s Lunar New Year break, labelling Chinese cuisine an “intangible cultural heritage” and restricting foreign influence in schools are among the patriotic recommendations made by delegates at this year’s meeting of the Chinese parliament.

Many of the 3,000 delegates from across China currently in Beijing for the 10-day meeting of the National People’s Congress, closing on Wednesday, came armed with proposals for the top leadership.

The hundreds of recommendations have only a tiny chance of being adopted, as most of the real decision making takes place throughout the year during regular meetings of the Standing Committee, the apex of power in China. The NPC is seen largely as a rubber stamp group.

But presenting ideas at the high-profile event gives delegates a rare chance to bend the ears of the top brass or simply raise the profile of their pet issue.

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Many of the proposals are imbued with patriotism, make recommendations for how to raise China’s international standing or focus on resolving the nation’s social issues.

Sixteen delegates from central Hunan province called for the government to push for Chinese food’s international recognition as an “intangible cultural heritage” so as to bolster the country’s soft power.

Lai Xiaoming, the chairman of China Huarong Asset Management, suggested the Lunar New Year break be extended to 15 days from seven to allow the millions of migrant workers who travel home over the holiday more time to see their families.

“(Migrant workers) each year only have Spring Festival to see their older relatives and children,” he said. “Often it is two to three days on the train, two to three days at home – you don’t have time to warm your bum before you need to leave.”

Liu Yonghao, president of the agribusiness group New Hope, is pushing for more industrial kitchens to be used to consolidate production and combat food safety problems in China’s rapidly growing home-delivery industry.

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“There are now tens of thousands – hundreds of thousands – of catering companies. Some online (platforms) do not know what remote place their dishes come from. No one supervises the food quality,” Liu said.

Some of the proposals sought to limit foreign influence when it is perceived to undermine Chinese interests.

Shanghai delegate Yan Chengzhong is proposing that more be done to guard against Western ideas being taught in public schools during the compulsory nine years of education.

“If schools are managed by foreigners with different cultures, different world views, different values, different views of development, we can inevitably expect them to be ’de-Sino-fied’,” Yan said in his proposal.

“We absolutely must not let the results that came from the ’de-Sino-fied’ education of young people in Taiwan to be repeated on the mainland,” he said.