China’s Two Sessions: Top 5 trending delegates’ proposals

A total of 2,977 delegates across China have gathered in the capital city of Beijing as China’s annual two sessions meetings kicked off on 4 March. Consisting of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), two sessions is the biggest event on China’s political calendar as this is when major policies are announced.

The first session of the 14th NPC is expected to last eight and a half days with a conclusion on 13 March. With eyes from around the globe landing on these top decision-making bodies, policy suggestions from delegates have come under the spotlight. Dao Insights has picked the top 5 trending proposals that may reshape China’s industries including online games, entertainment, AI, education, and the job market.

Ban Internet game services for minors – Views: 260 million

Introduced by Li Yan, a delegate at the two sessions, the proposal is in line with the government’s stiffened restrictions on China’s underaged users accessing online games in a bid to curb game addiction amongst children and teenagers. The president of Qilu Pharmaceuticals intends to elaborate on the current regulations by suggesting that the ban be included in the Minors Protection Law of China.

She also indicates there should be tougher punishments on platforms for violations while urging game developers to improve their system’s monitoring ability, such as compulsory facial recognition for logins, and prompting parents to take more responsibility in supervising their children.

The proposal soon became one of the most controversial, drawing in over 260 million views on China’s largest microblogging site Weibo as of 5 March. A poll hosted by the state news publication Beijing Youth Daily showed 62.9% of over 85,000 respondents disagreed with the idea, as opposed to 24.7% in support. While moderate play time during holidays is viewed as acceptable by some too. Netizens who disapproved of this idea questioned the feasibility of parent supervision while others suggested online games are scapegoats for parenting failure.

Fresh graduates should not mind entry salary – Views: 240 million

The proposal raised by Ni Minjing, a member of the CPPCC National Committee, is another one facing backlash. Ni, also deputy director-general of the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, described the initial stage of one’s career as a period of personal development, and suggested higher pay can be expected as they contribute more. “I don’t think graduates should bother too much about how much they get paid when they start their career”, said Ni, “instead, they should consider if this is what they like, and the career path in their future.”

His views soon sparked heated discussions on social media, propelling the topic to garner over 240 million in a day. Satirical comments soon followed, with some arguing “I suggest employers not minding my skills”, followed by another saying, “I suggest companies not caring if they can make a profit or not.” Others joined the sarcasm with jokes like “We don’t like money, only like work. In fact, I so like work that I would feel empty if I didn’t work for more than 10 hours a day,” a reference to the status quo of low pay coupled with overwork culture is what employees of the younger generations are facing in China.

Legislate escape rooms and script-killing industries – Views: 180 million

Escape rooms and script killing (or known as Jubensha in Chinese, a mystery-like role-playing board game) have gained traction in China over the past years. These activities have won over the younger demographics of post-95s and post-00s for their suspense-driven interactive nature that is normally based on stories full of horror and murders. However, the joy might soon be subject to closer scrutiny with Li Xiaoxuan, another CPPCC member suggesting the legislation of the two sectors.

Viewing some of this game content as “promoting violence and split personality”, the Vice Chairman of Yunnan Provincial Committee of China Association for Promoting Democracy raised his concerns over psychological health among young people while warning such content may induce youth crimes. The proposal is faced with mixed views from netizens. Some suggested introducing a classification system along with age limits for certain content which would be sufficient justification, while a radical ban is rather unnecessary. 

Push for development in humanoid robots – Views: 53 million

Amid the growing tech fever at home that has been fanned by a ChatGPT-like AI race, this is one of the handful of proposals that have been well received by Internet users. The suggestion was introduced by Lei Jun, the Chinese billionaire entrepreneur who founded the household name, consumer electronic brand Xiaomi. It encourages more support for humanoid robotic innovations, public-private collaboration in pulling off core technology breakthroughs, and building up open ecosystems and accelerating the incubation of scenario applications.

The initiative was soon met with public applause. Some praised Lei as “a vanguard” in leading the unmanned technology with reference to Xiaomi’s intelligent factory that claims to be completely unmanned and automated, while capable of an annual output of over 10 million smartphones. Others believed the proposal would allow China to “take a lead” in this avant-garde field should it be effectively implemented, which would “further increase China’s global influence.”

Make English optional in China’s college entrance examination – Views: 37 million

The proposal echoes China’s ongoing Double Reduction policy in the education sector, which aims to reduce the study burden for students. This is not the first time that the role of English has been downgraded in China’s overall education following the introduction of the regulation in 2021. The proposal of “reducing the weight of English in teaching and increasing the education of cultural confidence” which was raised in 2022 caused a stir. In response, the Ministry of Education stated “English study is necessary, but it doesn’t have to take up too much time or even be overstressed [as it is now].”

Chen Weizhi, a CPPCC member who proposed the latest idea, also suggested introducing a band-based English test system for secondary school students while placing a focus on communication skills and “cancel English’s status as a main subject in exams in both secondary and high schools”.

The idea was met with mixed public responses. Concerns arose, with some believing this would worsen China’s decoupling with the world as the foreign language is “a window to the outside world”. While others regarded the move as reflecting the evolving relationships between China and the rest of the world as well as China’s changing self-perception and self-positioning.