“Wen Jiabao’s Chat Shows Domestic Situation is Grim”

The NPC (National People’s Congress) kicks off again this year, and in preparation for that day, Premier Wen Jiabao went to the internet to answer questions from users. This has sparked a lot of discussion on the Chinese blogosphere, the following is a translation of blogger Han Song’s thoughts following the chat. It’s not a particularly well organized piece, but there is some interesting stuff in there.

Translation

[Note: Han Song typically posts giant blocks of text, and doesn’t differentiate paragraphs, but I’ve tried to make some paragraph divisions here where they seemed appropriate, for the sake of reading ease.]

Chinese Premier: Grandpa Wen
This time, Premier Wen’s chat with netizens left a deep impression. Twice, he said, “I don’t have much time” (and what finally came up on Xinhua’s website was “I don’t have many opportunities”). He responded to over twenty questions, and whether they were ones he selected himself or ones selected by the moderator, they were almost all questions on domestic issues. You could say it was just a string [of domestic issues] and there was no real discussion of hot international topics (the only things he mentioned related to other countries were Sino-American trade and the Shanghai Expo; he didn’t discuss anything else, from carbon emissions to Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan, etc., let alone the recent Google hacking incident).

I feel this reflects that the domestic situation is already rather grim. For example, there’s the issue of housing prices; how many years has it been since he made promises [to resolve the issue]? Or another example, [the issue of] access to the education system; it’s been ten-plus years and the issue still isn’t resolved. Then there’s the medical system; farmers, half of whom are still at the mercy of the seasons for food; commodity prices and corrupt officials that affect social stability, the [uneven] distribution of wealth, etc. China has to solve so many domestic issues, and “there aren’t many opportunities”, so there’s probably no way of dealing with international issues. It definitely also hints that China still is not a real international or global nation.

Many countries feel China is incompatible [with the rest of the world] and that it lacks justice, and they are concerned about this. Foreigners praising China is still rare. Many cadres knowledge of the world is still quite shallow. But in truth, the world’s impact on China has already been massive. But in terms of the meeting that’s about to happen [i.e., the meeting of the NPC], most of the representatives discuss international issues infrequently, not like American legislators, who have been gossiping about other countries for years.

Additionally, on the education issue and the issues of the next generation, the Premier spoke at some length, showing his concerns about the future. Speaking on studying, [he] criticized that Chinese people already have stopped studying hard. He wants more people to look to the sky, it seems looking at the ground too much makes people sulky*. Also, since while in the process of the chat we got the news about the 8.0 earthquake in Chile, if the moderator had directed Wen to express his feelings on this that would be good.

<span title="总理在网谈结束后又来到新华社视察。印象最深的是总理站得非常直,始终挺胸抬头。他希望新华社做世界一流的通讯社,这个一流,是第一的意思。这么一个十三亿人口国家,五千年文明大国,应该这样。大家都受到感动的样子,不停地鼓掌、笑、拍照。 "After the chat was over, the Premier came again to inspect Xinhua News Agency. The greatest impression he left [on me] was that he stood very straight, his head was always up and his shoulders were square. He hopes Xinhua can be an international first-class news agency; this "first-class" is his top priority. In a nation with 1.3 million people and five thousand years of grand history, that is as it should be. Everyone [at Xinhua] looked as though they were very moved, clapping, smiling, and taking pictures.

*Note: I think what Wen meant by “look to the sky” is something like “reach for the stars” but Han Song may be employing a bit of double entendre here, too; taking “sky” to refer to the future and “ground” to refer to reality, i.e. China’s present situation.

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0 thoughts on ““Wen Jiabao’s Chat Shows Domestic Situation is Grim””

  1. Wen Jiabao sounds like a defensive Pessimist. Hong Kong nationalized the low cost housing and healthcare. Perhaps they should emulate their model by having the government who owns and manages the low cost housing instead of trying to outsource to do it instead, same as healthcare. Surprisingly, China just started using genetically modified food that would increase production, instead relying on pesticides, perhaps they should consider doing that.

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  2. It’s good that the original Chinese is available. The first part in the second paragraph in your translated article,

    “Many countries feel China is incompatible [with the rest of the world] and that it lacks justice, and they are concerned about this. Foreigners praising China is still rare.”

    is totally off the track. Original Chinese is

    很多国家感觉中国格格不入,对世界“缺乏道义”,与此有关。有外国人称中国实际上还是很封闭的。

    My translation:

    Because of this reason [as mentioned in above], many countries feel China is incompatible/inconsistent [with them] and that it [China] “hasn’t taken enough responsibilities to the world” [in international affairs]. Some foreigners said China is actually still pretty closed/isolated [from the outside].

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