Famous artists offer insight at two sessions
Over the past week, I have spent much time with some of the country's most famous artists – including filmmakers, singers, choreographers, writers, actors, painters and musicians - during the NPC and CPPCC sessions.
One thing that I can confirm about these people is that – perhaps unsurprisingly – they are usually completely devoted to their art, talk about little else – and they seem to live in their own world.
I assumed they would support policies relating to their own field – possibly relating to financial assistance and promoting their art to the general public.
Well, they did do that – but not only. Most of the time, when they were sitting together and chatting, they discussed social issues that affect everyone.
Just this Sunday morning, the actress Song Dandan began a discussion about recent worrying trends that have been widely covered in the media. For example, there have been cases of people – especially the elderly – lying injured or sick on the sidewalk and passers-by walking past, ignoring them completely, as many are apparently afraid of being accused of involvement in the person's plight and some fear being blackmailed. Song and the rest of the group were dismayed by these incidents, and Feng Shuangbai, a dance critic, proposed a solution involving an improved medical system for the elderly – with the aim of putting an end to such incidents.
The comedian Gong Hanlin - who often appears on CCTV's Spring Festival gala - made several suggestions, including naming the area which was occupied by Japan's Unit 731 during the Anti-Japanese War a heritage site – so as to remember the victims - tackling pollution and offering financial support to those involved in endangered traditional art forms. Regarding the smog, Gong said: "What has the Ministry of Environment been doing?" and he called for civil servants to "take the blame and offer to resign". He added: "We've only seen expelling. But is this all that a transparent government does?"
A group of painters discussed Sino-Japan relations, the Gulf War, and defense spending. They said that funds related to the Clean Your Plate Campaign could go to the military.
A writer with the Guangzhou Military Command, Tang Dong, talked about traditional Chinese values and how they could be kept alive in the money-crazed, dog-eat-dog days. "We have to keep the essence of our tradition," he said.
The artists also talked about education - from primary school to vocational school - and a new evaluation system. They seemed to care very much about migrant workers, and whether or not they get the same treatment as urban residents. They also care about issues such as employment, the environment and food safety.
Mo Yan, the Nobel laureate, made a proposal for couples who have lost their only child, suggesting that they should be given priority in hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities – and the government should cover their fees.
Mo Yan wrote the controversial novel Frog – which focused on the one-child policy - and this may explain his concern and unusual insight in a social problem that affects many people around the country.