二会 (Èr Huì): Stupid Sessions
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. Mo Yan (left), whose pen name means “Don’t Speak,” told reporters that he had “nothing to say" at the Congress. Another celebrity delegate, actress Song Dandan (center), explained that she “still didn’t understand” her role and was “here to learn.” When the media approached director Chen Kaige (right), he simply said, “I haven’t prepared any motions. I’m going to lunch first.” 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.
Tongue-in-cheek reference to the 2013 National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. These annual meetings are known collectively as the “Two Sessions.” The Chinese numeral two is 二 (èr), but in most contexts the word 两 (liǎng) is used instead. Thus the Two Sessions are 两会 (Liǎng Huì), not 二会 (Èr Huì). In slang, 二 is short for “stupid,” from 二百五 (èrbǎiwǔ) (literally “two-hundred fifty”).
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.