Folk Pokes From The People’s Congress

The folk tradition of making up shunkouliu, doggerel satire known among Sinologists as “slippery jingles”, thrives today in the Chinese vernacular – mostly in the form of politically tinged gripes about social inequities. Shunkouliu allow the hoi poloi to vent about everyday abuses and parody Party rhetoric. Five years ago, a popular one lampooned apparatchiks implementing Jiang Zemin’s prescription to modernize the party. “By day, the Three Represents. By night, the Three Accompaniments,” (ÁôΩ§©Â≠¶‰∏â‰∏™‰ª£Ë°®,Êôö‰∏äÊâæ‰∏âÈô™). The latter is a euphemism for the full services of karaoke hostesses.

“Slippery jingles” are flying in this politically pivotal year, as was evident at the parliamentary sessions that just concluded. Delegates parroted them liberally in speeches and interviews, filtering the acerbic expressions of plain folk into mainstream state press. (It’s an open question, of course, whether their net effect was provocation or propaganda.) Lists of those quoted at the congress are now being passed around on the Web, which has become the main conduit for spreading


outside the countryside. Here’s by far the most widely circulated list. We’ve translated it loosely, attempting where possible to preserve the original rhymes.

“They plan and plan, but can’t keep up with changes by The Man.”
– Sichuan NPC delegate Ji Jinshan(Á∫™Â∞ΩÂñÑ), an economist at Southwest University of Finance and Economics, voicing popular dissatisfaction with reckless planning and implementation of “New Countryside” policies.

“Villages cheat towns, towns cheat counties, they cheat on up to the cabinet of the country.”
РCPPCC delegate Yang Zhifu(杨志福), a veteran professor at China Agricultural University, on how a bureaucratic culture of deceit perverts central policy directives, in a meeting with Premier Wen Jiabao.

“With animals the fear is hormones, with plants it’s toxins, with drinks it’s colorings. What can be eaten, there’s really no knowin’.”
-Shandong NPC delegate Jin Zhiguo金志国, president of Tsingtao Brewery, on popular concerns over food safety following a spate of food poisoning outbreaks

“Farm and pay no levies, study and pay no fees – since Pangu created the cosmos, this we’ve never seen.”
-Jiangxi NPC delegate Zhou Lizhen周丽珍, a middle school teacher, welcoming the historic end to farming taxes and the expansion of subsidies to rural schools, which in some places has coincided with budget shortfalls and fresh abuses related to a reduced tax base at the grass roots.

“Finally out of poverty for four or five years, then sickness strikes and you’re back in arrears.”
“Get an appendicitis, a year’s worth of crops to fight it.”
-CPPCC delegate Ren Yuling, on the crippling costs of health care in the countryside

“An official’s expense tab is a basket; anything he wants can be packed in it.”
-Unattributed, on public servants’ indulgent lifestyles

“Set an example by eating meat, carry forward with downing soup, follow through as villagers’ tears well up.”
-Unattributed, on how grass-roots cadres are abused Beijing’s “New Countryside” policies.

March 17, 2007 3:03 AM