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Stupid Sessions

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Èr Huì 二会

Jackie Chan wept at the 2013 National People’s Congress, his first. He admitted that he did not know what he was supposed to be doing. (Source:
Hu Suping, head of the Shaanxi Province Propaganda Department, told reporters that 83-year-old delegate Shen Jilan (right) “is able to represent the voices at the lowest levels. If we didn’t allow her to serve as a representative, the voices of protests would be even louder.” The longest-serving delegate, Shen says she has stayed on by voting “yes” on every single measure. (Source:
Tongue-in-cheek reference to the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which entered widespread usage in 2013. The annual meetings of the legislative and advisory bodies are known collectively as the “Two Sessions.” The Chinese numeral "two" is èr 二 , but Chinese grammar dictates that in most situations involving quantity the word liǎng 两 is used instead (thus the Two Sessions are Liǎng Huì 两会, not Èr Hui 二会). In slang, èr 二 is a short and jocular stand-in for “stupid,” from èrbǎiwǔ 二百五 (literally “two-hundred fifty”).

Many netizens view the “Stupid Sessions” as a pointless, bizarre pageant, where movie stars and other celebrities are brought to Beijing to “represent” the Chinese people and “vote” on legislation they barely understand. The term "Stupid Sessions" appears to have gained currency during the 2013 Two Sessions. That year was Jackie Chan's first appearance as a delegate to the CPPCC. The movie star, already then known to cause massive backlash with contoversial statements, was criticized online after admitting to reporters that he didn't know what he was supposed to be doing at the meetings.

Other celebrity delegates displayed a similar lack of preparation in 2013: author Mo Yan, whose pen name means “Don’t Speak,” told reporters that he had “nothing to say" at the Congress. Actress Song Dandan, explained that she “still didn’t understand” her role and was “here to learn.” When the media approached director Chen Kaige, he simply said, “I haven’t prepared any motions. I’m going to lunch first.”

See also soy sauce delegate.

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