The David Feng Review of Plenary.ccp version 18.3

I’m reviewing the recent 3rd Plenary of the Chinese Communist Party, now in “version 18.0” with Xi Jinping as its head honcho. Here’s my take on what version 18.3 of (sorry — CCP, not APP) — offers users (as in: users of “air” on Chinese territory; or more, rather, as in its “people”).

• SECOND KIDS: LIKE. I have never been a fanboy of the One-Child Policy simply because it makes all of us (as in the younger generation) like spoilt brats. I know this too well as I teach kids born in the 1990s — these are the antithesis of those in the Victorian era, where even writing with the left hand got you caned. (I’ve a Japanese / Swiss friend who was like that. Oh man, now if he was born a few decades “before” his time…) These days, if these kids don’t like your lesson, they tweet about it, tune into their iTunes on their iPhone (it actually is like this, technologically speaking), or just doze off. Even if you set the microphone on maximum volume and shake the room, booming the kid’s name again and again, the kid can just choose to leave the room. There’s no way you can do about this: it’s against the law to beat kids up or to “go against their interests”!

An only child is good when you’re the kid and you’re still aged about 9 or 10 — or so; nobody’s gonna steal your Lego! Then you enter what we all know as Adolescent Mode, and you find life on your own is just a bore. With a brother or sister, things might be much more different. Now that Chinese citizens can have two kids if only one of them is an “only child”, we will be seeing more competent kids — with less problems and a better way to actually talk to people.

• EDUCATIONAL REFORM: LIKE. I hate the National University Entrance Exams in China (aka Gaokao) even though I never had to go through one. It’s hell. If you crash out on The Big Day, your life is ruined. I know this since I know people who had to get an Associate Degree before getting one or more Bachelor’s Degrees. I am actually less pessimistic about the cancellation of “key courses” as it makes kids more socially competent: they can, instead, do extracurricular activities — and I myself loved that.

The new, SAT-like University Entrance Exams are like a gift from the academic / educational gods. I just hope I could set the English language exams so students aren’t brainwashed with Chinglish. Right now I’d say the great majority of English teachers in China are doing what they are not supposed to be doing — I’d say most of my colleagues would agree with this as well. Chinglish is all over the place. We’ve got to nix it. I also agree that schools and universities should revert to their academic selves instead of being pseudo-bureaucracies.

• NGOs: SCEPTICAL. One of the biggest issues with the China of today is the fact that there is virtually no breathing room for non-government organisations. Either you’re part of the .ccp/.gov apparatus, or you’re an individual who is free but never official (and the mandarins can — and will often elect to — ignore you). Starting even a computer or railways association can be extremely difficult due to the red tape. They have been talking about making it easier to start non-gov organisations but given how things have been in the past decades, I’d consider Taiwan-ish liberalisation next to impossible. A very real problem is how these NGOs will “interact” with the authorities. It’s not about whether or not you’re pro-PRC-establishment or not; under the Hu Jintao years, even the Chinese equivalents of YouTube were under government ownership. (Most of the clips were either fights in the Subway, rich ladies showing off their “bling-bling”, or soap operas from every last place imaginable — instead of being clips about political rallies and their “sensitive ilk”.)

If eventually NGOs would be allowed more rights to help society at large, then that’s OK. But until then, I remain highly sceptical in this regard. This can all be changed if a new law was made (or existing laws were changed) and we had this in print — black on white. Otherwise my scepticism remains.

I’m not advocating such massive NGO-ish changes in China as can be seen elsewhere. But it should not take hurdles to establish even — like — a chess club for a village in China.

I’ve a train to catch. More of my views on this later.

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