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No Champagne & Caviar: China’s 2015 Parliamentary Sessions

China’s Parliamentary Sessions will commence in Beijing this week. This year, cutting costs on the event itself has become a priority.

Manya Koetse



Trending all over China’s internet are the ‘Two Meetings” (‘lianghui’, 两会), the annual sessions of China’s parliament and its advisory body, commencing in Beijing this week. This year cutting costs on the event appears to have become a priority: no red carpets, no flowers and no bottled water. The frugality measures seem to suit Xi Jinping’s campaign against the malfeasance of public officials. How different things were in Mao’s time.

The National People’s Congress (NPC) is the legislative body of China’s government, consisting of 2987 members. Its political advisory body, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (CPPCP), holds 2237 members (Chuan 2015). During the so-called lianghui, congress members will review government work and discuss reforms of the judicial system, tax matters and regional development (Caixin 2015).

The annual gathering of the NPC and CPPCP is a major political happening that is closely followed by local and international media. Frugality was already promoted during the events over the recent years, but it is especially advocated this year.

The promotion of frugality involves the elimination of fresh fruit or flowers in congress members’ hotel rooms. Since the stay of these members is relatively long (the meetings end on March 15), disposable toiletries will also be exchanged for reusable items, such as non-disposable slippers and toothbrushes.

A special corner will be set up at every floor where congress members can polish their own shoes. Guests arriving at the hotel will no longer receive assistance in carrying luggage to the room. Provided dinners will be ‘home-cooked’ and simple, with a selection of ten warm dishes and five different staple foods. Instead of bottled mineral water, there will be plain boiled water. There will also be lemonade and apple juice from beverage dispensers (Tencent 2015; You 2015).

 toothpasteNo disposable items in congress members’ hotel rooms. Instead, reusable items (Tencent 2015).

polishFrugality meets congress meeting: polish your own shoes (Tencent 2015).

 couchNo fresh fruit, no flowers (Tencent 2015).

In the Tencent article “How Mao Zedong Received Lianghui Committee Members“, author You Youfang goes back in time to the parliamentary sessions of 1954, the first year of the National People’s Congress in Bejing. NPC representatives Xu Zhucheng and Song Yunbin wrote about these lianghui sessions in their respective diaries.

During the event, that lasted throughout September, they describe the lavish banquets, wine-filled dinners and theater performances, including those of top opera stars Ma Lianliang and Li Yilan. Entertainment was provided every night- members could see every play they wanted to see. Even during lunch, there was a selection of local drinks, beer and wine. At the end of the event, Mao Zedong proposed a toast to the health of the party members, which resulted in toasting at least twenty times, according to the diary of Song Yunbin.


2000-1Model workers applauding at the National People’s Congress ceremony on Tiananmen, 1954.


This year, China’s congress members might have to do without the twenty-something toasts, lavish banquets, and glamorous plays. No champagne or caviar. At least they will get to take their slippers home.


– by Manya Koetse

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Caixin. 2015. “Closer Look: What to Expect from This Year’s ‘Two Sessions.'” Caixin Online, 3 March [4.3.15].

Chuan Guanjun 川观君. 2015. 全国两会的代表委员共多少人?四川有多少?Sichuan Online, March 2 [4.3.15].

Tencent News. 2015. “节俭两会:宾馆不设鲜花 洗漱用品非一次性.” Tencent, 2 March [4.3.15].

You Youfang 游有方. 2015. “毛泽东如何招待两会代表委员.” Tencent Dajia, 4 March [4.3.15].

Image used: Tencent Dajia, 4 March [4.3.15].


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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at, or follow on Twitter.

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China Insight

From Hong Kong Protests to ‘Bright Future’ – The Top 3 Most Popular Posts on Weibo This Week

These are the most-read posts on Weibo this week.

Manya Koetse



The three most-read posts on Weibo over the past week – an overview by What’s on Weibo.

The protests in Hong Kong have been dominating Chinese social media throughout August, and the past week has been no different. Two out of three most-read posts on Weibo, one of China’s most popular social media platforms, were about Hong Kong this week.

A wrap-up:


#1 Hundreds of Hong Kong Taxi’s Flying Chinese National Flag

Image shared by CCTV on their Weibo account.

While Hong Kong is gearing up for the 13th consecutive weekend of mass anti-government demonstrations, there are no signs of the protests fizzling out any time soon.

The Hong Kong protests started in March and April of this year against an extradition bill that would allow local authorities to detain and extradite people wanted in mainland China, and have intensified over the past weeks.

Although authorities in mainland China initially remained quiet on the topic, the Hong Kong demonstrations have been dominating the trending streams on China’s popular social media platforms for all of August.

Through videos, online posters, and slogans, Chinese state media have propagated a clear narrative on the situation in Hong Kong; namely that a group of “separatists” or “bandits” are to blame for the riots that aim to “damage public security” in Hong Kong and are “dividing the nation.”

News outlets such as People’s Daily and CCTV are sharing many stories that emphasize the One China principle and praise the Hong Kong police force. Those voices in Hong Kong speaking up for the police force and condemning protesters using violence have been amplified in Chinese media.

One story that became the number one trending post on Weibo this week is that of dozens of Hong Kong taxi drivers hanging the Chinese national flag from their cars (video).

On August 23, the taxi drivers reportedly formed a rally against violence at Tsim Sha Tsui, waving the flags and putting up signs saying “I love HK, I love China.”

The hashtag “500 Hong Kong Taxi’s Hanging up Chinese National Flags” (#香港500辆的士挂上国旗#), hosted by CCTV, attracted over 700 million views on Weibo. The CCTV post reporting on the event received over half a million likes and 47000 shares.

The commenters mostly praise the Hong Kong taxi drivers for “standing up for Hong Kong” and flying the Chinese flag.

In English-language media, it has mostly been Chinese state media reporting on the rally. Xinhua, Women of China, ECNS, and Global Times all reported on the August 23 peace rally.

CNN only shortly reported how “a number of taxis have been spotted driving around the city displaying Chinese flags — something that has not happened on this scale during previous protests” (link).


#2 ‘Bright Future’ Title Song for Upcoming Movie ‘The Moon Remembers All’

Over 266.000 Weibo users have been sharing a post by Chinese actor Li Xian (李现) on the title track for the new Chinese movie The Moon Remembers All or River on a Spring Night (Chinese title: 春江花月夜).

The upcoming movie itself is a very popular topic on Weibo recently, attracting 430 million views on its hashtag page alone. The movie just finished shooting and will be released in 2020.

The song titled “Bright Future” (前程似锦) is sung by Taiwanese singer Chen Linong (陈立农) and Li Xian, who are both the leading actors in the fantasy movie. The song was released on August 29.

The Moon Remembers All is produced by Edko Films and directed by Song Haolin (宋灏霖), also known for Mr. Zhu’s Summer (2017) and Fatal Love (2016).


#3 Interview with Hong Kong Pro-Beijing LegCo Member Junius Ho

The third most popular Weibo post of this week comes from Xia Kedao (侠客岛), a popular commentator account for the People’s Daily Overseas Edition, and concerns a live broadcasted interview with Hong Kong lawmaker and Legislative Council (LegCo) member Junius Kwan-yiu Ho.

Junius Ho (何君尧) is known as being ‘pro-Beijing’ and stirred controversy earlier this summer when a viral video showed him shaking hands with men wearing white T-shirts who allegedly were linked to the mob attacking people at the Yuen Long MTR station on July 21.

Xia Kedao describes Junius Ho as a “straightforward” politician who “speaks out for justice” and denounces “reactionaries.”

In the August 28 interview, that was live-streamed on Sina Weibo and later also written up, the Hong Kong legislator discussed the background of the protests.

Ho argues that the people with “ulterior motives” used the extradition bill for their own power struggle, distorting and exaggerating the facts behind the regulation.

The politician also partly links the protests to a “weak national consciousness” in Hong Kong due to its education curriculum and says that there have not been enough legal consequences for those participating in illegal activities and riots.

Thousands of commenters on Weibo write that they appreciate Ho for speaking out against the “pro-independence riot youth” and praise him for his “deep understanding” of mainland China.

By now, Junius Ho, who is also active on Weibo with his own account, has gathered more than half a million fans on his page.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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China Insight

Exchange Student to Be Deported from China for Harassing Young Woman at University

An exchange student studying at the Hebei University of Engineering has been expelled and will soon be deported after harassing a female student.

Manya Koetse



An exchange student from Pakistan who was studying at the Hebei University of Engineering (河北工程大学) has been expelled and detained after harassing a female student at the same university.

The incident, that is attracting much attention on Chinese social media this week, adds to the wave of recent controversies over the behavior and status of overseas students in mainland China.

On July 31, a female student at the Hebei university filed a police report against a Pakistani student who allegedly harassed her and attempted to forcefully kiss her and touch her breasts.

Screenshots of a supposed WeChat conversation between the exchange student and the female student, in which the man apologizes and claims the interaction is a “requirement for friendship,” are being shared on social media.

According to various reports, the police initially tried to mediate between the two students, which the female student refused.

Together with the school principal, the police then further investigated the case and found ample evidence of harassment after examining the university’s surveillance system.

On August 1st, the Hebei University of Engineering announced that they had expelled the student and that he will be deported from China. The announcement received more than 14,000 reactions and 150,000 ‘likes’ on Weibo.

The student is now detained at the local Public Security Bureau and is awaiting his deportation.

A photo of two officers together with a man in front of the detention center in Handan is circulating on social media in relation to this incident.

At time of writing, the hashtag page “Exchange Student to Be Deported after Molesting Female Student” (#留学生猥亵女学生将被遣送出境#) has been viewed over 310 million times on Weibo.

Among thousands of reactions, there are many who praise the Hebei university for supporting the female student after she reported the exchange student to the police.

“This may not be the best university, but at least they stand behind their students!”, some say, with others calling the university “awesome.”

Many say that the Hebei university should serve as an example for other Chinese universities to follow, with Shandong University being specifically mentioned by Weibo users.

Shandong University was widely criticized earlier this summer for its “buddy exchange program,” which was accused of being a way to arrange Chinese “girlfriends” for male foreign students.

Another incident that is mentioned in relation to this trending story is that of an exchange student who displayed aggressive behavior towards a Chinese police officer in July of this year. The student was not punished for his actions, which sparked anger on Chinese social media.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at

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