[The Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, known as Spring Festival, is often called the biggest human migration in the world, as millions return to their hometowns for family reunions. Lai Xiaomin, a delegate to the National People’s Congress from Hunan Province and chairman of China Huarong Asset Management, wants the seven-day holiday most workers are granted to be extended to 15 days, sina.com reported. With the long distances they must travel, he said, many people are unable to spend much time with their relatives on this most important of Chinese holidays.]
By Karoline Kan
BEIJING — It’s that time again, when more than 5,000 delegates to China’s National People’s Congress and its advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, meet in Beijing to endorse legislation and discuss government plans for the coming year. They talk about their policy ideas with the local media too, and coverage of their proposals and the online comments they attract provide glimpses into some of the issues on the minds of Chinese today.
End All Birth Restrictions. Lower the Marriage Age.
In 2015, China announced it was ending its decades-long “one-child” policy, allowing all couples to have two children. But Huang Xihua, a National People’s Congress delegate from Guangdong Province, said China should lift all controls on births and lower the legal marriage age to 18, from 22 for men and 20 for women.
“You can’t turn people’s willingness to have babies on and off like a water tap,” Ms. Huang told Southern Metropolis. “Once having fewer children becomes a trend, it’s hard to reverse.”
As for marriage, she added: “Females reach sexual maturity at around 14 years old, and males at 16. That means Chinese people are sexually mature for six years before being allowed to marry. Lowering the legal marriage age is a way to protect civil rights and preserve social harmony.”
E-tee-wee-tee: “This would undermine women’s right to education. Although it would only be an option, in China, where parents are obsessed with maintaining the family bloodline, it would result in more women dropping out of school early.”
Banzhixiangyan007：“It’s only a proposal, aimed at giving people the choice to marry at 18, not forcing anyone to get married then. If they’re adults and want to get married, why not let them? And if you want to get married later, you do it later. Isn’t more choice a good thing?”
Ziqidonglaizhenren：“First you punish people for having too many children. Now that you want people to have more kids, people should do as you wish? Besides, being a parent isn’t just about giving birth, it’s about responsibility. What do 18-year-olds know when they’re kids themselves?”
Drop English from the University Entrance Exam
English is a compulsory subject on the gaokao, the university entrance examination. According to Li Guangyu, a National People’s Congress delegate from Hunan Province and chairman of the Yuhua Education Group, this has caused students to devote too much time to English at the expense of other subjects. “English imposes too much pressure on Chinese students,” Mr. Li said on sohu.com.
Ahuhua: “Most people don’t need English in their everyday life. They need Chinese. But they don’t learn Chinese well either. Their grammar is terrible. They can’t write characters correctly. People who keep stressing the importance of English are actually threatening the position of Chinese in school.’’
Songbeibeipifalatiao: “English is one of the most widely used languages in the world. How can we drop it from the gaokao? Why not cancel math? Do you need math to communicate in your everyday life?”
Fanxiaopi Superpi: “In China, if it’s not compulsory, who spends any time on it? Have you ever seen Chinese kids studying philosophy, which isn’t tested?”
Make Parental Negligence a Crime
A group of 13 delegates to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference have proposed that parents whose negligence results in their child’s injury or death should be prosecuted. According to one delegate, Li You, quoted in Chengdu Business Daily, every year, 10 million children in China are injured in accidents, 100,000 fatally, often caused by parents’ negligence. In February, two children slipped and fell five floors to their deaths in a Tianjin shopping mall when their father held them over a railing. In January, a 4-year-old boy drowned in a bath as his mother, who was beside him, remained engrossed in her cellphone.
Demoiselle-Crane-flying: “Agree, and I suggest parents should have to get a certificate before they’re allowed to have children. Being qualified to marry isn’t the same as being qualified to raise kids.”
Phantom1205: “It’s already so painful for parents if their children are killed or injured. Wouldn’t putting them in jail only add to the family’s misfortune?’’
More Holiday Time
The Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, known as Spring Festival, is often called the biggest human migration in the world, as millions return to their hometowns for family reunions. Lai Xiaomin, a delegate to the National People’s Congress from Hunan Province and chairman of China Huarong Asset Management, wants the seven-day holiday most workers are granted to be extended to 15 days, sina.com reported. With the long distances they must travel, he said, many people are unable to spend much time with their relatives on this most important of Chinese holidays.
Qinggetalang: “Fabulous! Even 15 days is too short, maybe 30?’’
Tianxiongboke: “Does he understand China’s situation? With companies hurting so much with worker shortages and the rising cost of labor, I can’t imagine what would happen if the holiday was even longer.”
Luoxuerushuang: “I suggest we have seven days off a week. We’d no longer have to work, and I suppose our food would drop down to us from heaven.”
Jujibeijixing: “First, how about making sure every company gives its employees all the holidays they’re entitled to under current.
Stack the Dead
In many urban areas, the price of a burial plot is soaring — costing more, by square meter, than an apartment, said Song Xinfang, a National People’s delegate from Shandong Province. He proposes that China build tower-style cemeteries to save land and money.
“If we build two floors underground, and five to seven floors above, lots of people’s ash boxes can be stored on a small plot,” Mr. Song told Legal Evening News. “Perhaps a family could buy a tower or different families could share the same tower. It would save a lot of land.”
Haohaoxuexili bii gengjin: “This would be really scary. If you went to visit your family’s shrines, you’d have to pass all the shelves and rooms where other people’s ashes were stored. It reminds me that in many horror movies, ghosts appear in elevators.”
Daydayda: “I think it’s reasonable and it would help save land. I’m sure our dead ancestors would understand. But you have to consider that many people would find this creepy.”
Make It Easier for People to be Registered Where They Work
In the 1950s, a household registration system was instituted to curb rural migration to cities and it continues to determine where citizens can live and still enjoy full social welfare rights. Cai Jiming, an economics professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing and a delegate to the National People’s Congress, said it’s time to do away with maximum population targets for cities and to treat all citizens equally. He says the traffic congestion, air pollution and high housing costs that afflict big cities result from poor management rather than overpopulation.
“People tend to move to big cities, not just in China, but everywhere in the world,” he told Caixin. “This is driven by market forces, and we should respect market forces.”
Quanqiuhaodianyingsoulou: “I suggest that this delegate go to the hospitals, schools and subways and have a look himself. Do some field research before talking about this.”
Fangfengzhengdemoyu: “I think the really urgent problem is that job opportunities aren’t evenly distributed in China. Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have absorbed so many resources that people are all rushing into these cities. If Chinese cities were equally developed, with better education and medical services, there would be fewer people coming to Beijing to inhale the smog.”
Follow Karoline Kan on Twitter @KarolineCQKan.