Life lessons

Chinese politics confound me because they seem complicated and redundant. Fortunately, text messages simplify the problem. Of interest is the way that “family” operates as a metaphor to explain and justify power relationships. Actual job descriptions follow translation:

小姑娘看报,问妈妈:什么是党委,妈妈:党委就是你爸,整天不干活还老骂人。小姑娘又问:政府呢?妈妈:政府就是你妈,整天干活还被你爸骂。人大呢?人大就是你爷爷,名义是一家之主,但整天提着个鸟笼子,啥事不管。小姑娘又问:政协呢?妈妈:政协就是你奶奶,整天叨唠,但没人听她的。小姑娘还问:什么是团委?妈妈:团委就是你哥,整天在外瞎折腾,啥忙都帮不了,小姑娘最后问:什么是纪委?妈妈:纪委就是你,名义上是监督父母的,但是吃父母的,穿父母的,受父母领导,关键是还整天问这问那。

Reading the newspaper, a little girl asked her mother, “What’s the Party Committee?”

Mom answered, “The Party Committee is your father, who doesn’t do anything all day but yell at people.”

The little girl had another question, “What’s government?”

Mom answered, “Government is your mother, who works all day and still gets yelled at by your father.”

“What about China’s National People’s Congress?”

“The National People’s Congress is your grandfather, who in name is in charge of the family, but in fact just carries his bird cage and doesn’t take care of anything.”

Then the little girl asked, “And the People’s Political Consultative Committee?”

“The People’s Political Consultative Committee is your grandmother, who complains all day, but no one listens to her.”

And then the little girl asked, “What’s the Youth League Committee?”

“The Youth League Committee is your older brother, who runs around all day busy doing nothing and not helping with anything.”

Finally the little girl asked, “What’s the Discipline Inspection Committee?”

“The Discipline Inspection Committee is you, who in name has oversight over your parents, but in fact eats what we serve you, wears what we buy you, and follows our orders, nevertheless, still goes around asking questions!”

Actual definitions and links to national bodies. Importantly, Chinese government reproduces itself all the way down, so that these bodies exist at every administrative level and have ranked authority. Thus, at the same level, these are the rankings. However, the Central Government ranks higher than a provincial or local Party Committee:

党委 (Party Committee) is composed of the most important Chinese leaders. Policy is debated in meetings of the Party Committee policy. Of note, only the Party Committee does not have a website and so this link will take you to a Chinese wiki introduction to what the Committee does.

政府 (Government) is responsible for administrating the policy decisions made by the Party Committee.

人大 (The People’s Congress) is the highest state body and only legislative house in China.

政协 (People’s Political Consultative Committee) is an advisory body, composed of experts from different fields who make suggestions about wither Chinese politics and government.

团委 (Youth League Committee) is responsible for educating and cultivating the next generation of Chinese leaders.

纪委 (Discipline Inspection Committee) is responsible for overseeing that Chinese law is respected and enforced.

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