By Patrick Lozada
On Sunday, lawmakers in Shanghai convened a managed online discussion with netizens as part of the national run-up to the 12th National People’s Congress on Tuesday.
“We would like to include citizens in the government’s decision-making process by helping us identify the key areas for future legislation,” said Yin Yicui deputy Party chief of Shanghai and National People’s Congress delegate.
Peng Di, a participant in the forum hosted by internet portal Eastday, was quoted in People’s Daily as saying “I think such discussions are meaningful and practical, because they dismiss in real time people’s concerns about what the lawmakers do during the annual gathering.”
“Dismissing in real time”? Gee willickers! While internet outreach is certainly not a bad thing, it stretches the sphincter of credulity to its utmost to imagine this steaming pile of manufactured consent effecting decisions made anywhere.
The reaction by the international press to this flowering of democracy was unanimous. The Daily Mail wrote a lengthy no page exposé on the event, while the New York Times’ Paul Krugman was quoted as saying “…”. Meanwhile, Nicholas Kristof grumbled something about buying meth on Taobao.