Western pomp at swearing-in events
A Western-style swearing-in ceremony for new heads of state and a tightening up of the nation's family-planning policy for people with little education were two of the eye-popping proposals to come yesterday from National People's Congress (NPC) deputies and members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Yu Jinyao, a CPPCC member and a world history scholar with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, proposed swearing-in ceremonies for new central government leaders who will be identified next week at the end of the annual sessions of the two bodies. Yu said his proposal was inspired by countries such as the US, Russia and South Korea that draw worldwide attention for their festivities and grandeur. "A well-received swearing-in ceremony will strengthen the public's acceptance of the political system," he said. "So a swearing-in ceremony for heads of state would be not just a formality, but something of great significance, in the same way as the flag-raising ceremony [in Tiananmen Square every day]." However, Yu failed to acknowledge a key difference in China, where leaders are appointed largely by the party, not by the public.
Affordable housing for all big-city families
NPC deputy Zong Qinghou, chairman of beverage giant Wahaha Group, proposed making affordable housing available to all families in big cities, amid soaring prices. Zong, the richest man on the mainland last year, suggested every urban household be given an affordable home, particularly so young people can have better lives. "It has become a prominent social problem, as a lot of young workers in major cities can't afford to buy or even rent a home due to extremely high housing prices," he warned. Young workers, he said, should be allowed to rent a one-bedroom home at no more than 10 per cent of their salaries. And when they have enough money, they should have an affordable home of about 970 sq ft, with a 15-year mortgage in which their monthly payment is no more than 20 per cent of their income. He said that, as the richest man on the mainland, he and his family were not under pressure to leave, so he and some of his family members have given up their American green cards.
Education level to decide size of family
The NPC and CPPCC sessions each year have provided a stage for flamboyant mainland philanthropist Chen Guangbiao, even though he is only a special guest to the two conferences. Chen, a billionaire who struck gold by recycling construction materials and is famous for his controversial philanthropy, again raised eyebrows this year with a proposal tying the country's infamous family-planning policy to the level of education a couple receives. In addition to calling for the one-child policy to be abolished for people with a college degree, he said those who fail to complete the compulsory nine years of schooling should not be allowed to have any children, with exemptions for people who live in remote areas.