Every spring, Chinese people are bombarded with the spectacle of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's legislature. But for the millions of Chinese outside China, the session elicits nothing more than a yawn. \n"I don't think Chinese around the world know or care about the NPC meetings,'' said Perry Link, professor of East Asian Studies at Princeton University in the US. \nChina exercises an ever-stronger pull for millions of ethnic Chinese across the globe as it changes. Expatriate Chinese-born people are venturing back to do business. \nForeign-born Chinese are reconnecting with their heritage, while the people in Taiwan and Singapore have sunk billions of US dollars into China, taking advantage of China's rapidly growing economy. \nStill, for many of them, the NPC is nothing more than a charade of a real democracy that fails to give its people a voice. \n"Without debate, what does the vote mean?" said Henry Zhao, a professor at London's School of Oriental and African Studies. Abroad for more than a decade, he monitors current events in his homeland closely but sees no reason to follow the NPC. \nInside China, the legislature, which convened Friday, dominates newspapers and television. But Zhao doesn't expect that he will see much coverage of the event in his local Chinese language newspapers. \n"Chinese newspapers abroad (are) only for the local communities, mostly restaurateurs," Zhao said. \n"They do not care about those things far away," Zhao said. \nSingapore is the home to more than 3 million ethnic Chinese, many of whom think of China as "laojia," or "old home." But even there, the NPC fails to drum up much interest. \n"Singaporeans do watch China closely,'' said Simon Tay, head of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs and a former appointed member of Singapore's Parliament. \n"The workings and significance of the NPC are, however, not well known or appreciated by many," Tay said. \nThe ambivalence is understandable. \nThe NPC has been a showcase for the Communist Party's highly controlled and carefully staged version of participatory democracy. Handpicked delegates meet to hear and approve leaders' reports, with virtually no possibility of robust debate. \nSome 2,904 delegates are meeting for 10 days of ceremonies, speeches and voting on laws and amendments already crafted by members of the Communist Party's ruling elite. Dissenting votes are rare. \nAlthough important constitutional amendments covering foreign trade, human rights and private property will be endorsed next week, many predict business as usual. \n"It looks to be a very routine, normal event this year, which I would find reassuring if I were an overseas Chinese with significant investment in China or participating in a business relationship," says Donald DeGlopper, head of research for the US Law Library of Congress. \nHowever, legal experts and activists outside China are watching. \nThe scheduled insertion into the constitution of language on human rights could draw attention from overseas activists. \nThat makes it "of particular interest this year," said Jose Luis Diaz, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. \nHenry Gao, a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, said scheduled amendments to China's 10-year-old Foreign Trade Law will be "closely watched" by select people in Hong Kong, which is still treated as a foreign territory in customs and trade despite its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. \n"It is still too early to predict whether the amendments will make the Chinese foreign trade regime more liberalized or restricted," Gao said. \n"But it certainly shows that China has become more sophisticated in the international arena," Gao said. \nBut many abroad agree that anyone with a passion for the NPC is firmly in the minority, even when it comes to those actively participating in China's pursuit of profits. \n"There may be a few [overseas Chinese] who follow the NPC," said Wang Gungwu, head of the East Asia Institute at the National University of Singapore. \n"But I have not met any who believe that the meetings help them much in their business in China," Wang said.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies