Smooth talking entrepreneurs at the Two Sessions

If you thought that the Two Sessions taking place in Beijing right now were boring and trite and not made for vigorous discussion and a frank exchange of ideas, the Entrepreneurs’ Daily newspaper is today intent on convincing you that the outspokenness of a group of Chinese entrepreneurs is setting this year’s Two Sessions on fire. The newspaper today has a front page roundup of the “smooth talking” of a few leading entrepreneurs at this year’s Two Sessions, ranging from the wacky suggestions of Chen Guangbiao to more practical ideas for reforms in certain industries.

The Two Sessions that are taking place in Beijing at the moment are a symphony of all kinds of sounds, as the Entrepreneurs’ Daily (企业家日报) puts it so enthusiastically today, but one type of sound is audible above the cacophony:

The brain storm of the representatives at this distinguished political meeting is a type of miraculous radiating symphony. Yet the “smooth talking” of entrepreneurs at the Two Sessions is without doubt the most resonant sound in this symphony.

In every conceivable issue under discussion at the Two Sessions, the newspaper relates, the entrepreneurs are focusing their vigorous candor on the people’s welfare, displaying both their commonplace wisdom and civic sense of responsibility. Entrepreneurs “these days” are not merely interested in their own business matters, but are focusing their attention on all aspects of society.

Altruistic Zong Qinghou
Soon after the Two Sessions commenced this year, Two Sessions delegate Zong Qinghou (宗庆后), chairman and CEO of Hangzhou Wahaha Group and purportedly the richest man in China, called for working class people in China to be exempted from personal income tax. Such a fighter for the average man, Entrepreneurs’ Daily concludes, Zong stands out in more ways than one among China’s richest people.

Loony Chen Guangbiao
On 2 March, the billionaire entrepreneur Chen Guangbiao (陈光标) stood at the northern entrance of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to welcome arriving delegates and members of the media with his personal brand of cans filled with clean air. Although not formally a member of the NPC or the CPPCC that collectively constitute the Two Sessions, Chen has appeared at the meetings every year since 2000 to make some bold statement. He appeared at last year’s Two Sessions wearing a Lei Feng cap, while this year he wore an all-green outfit of suit, tie and hat.

Shortly after this year’s Two Sessions commenced, it was revealed online that Chen had made a few suggestions for the meetings. One of his suggestions was for all the delegates to watch the 2012 Chinese movie “On the Nanniwan Frontier” (Chinese name: 南泥湾). While this is indeed a patriotic film, the suggestion could not have gone down entirely without a few awkward responses as the film was directed by and starred Diana Pang (彭丹), a Hong Kong actress who previously starred in a number of softcore porn films that are still banned in mainland China.

Some of Chen’s other wacky suggestions included reform of China’s family planning policy so that any person with a level of education no higher than junior high school are not allowed to have children; and the establishment of an annual “Save Food Day” on which everyone should go hungry for a day. One can wonder how long (if at all) Chen’s suggestions were discussed, but smooth talking he surely did do.

Novel ideas from Zhang Jindong, Li Shufu, and Chen Lijun
There is also the type of entrepreneur who wants to see more practical reforms in his or her respective industry. Zhang Jindong (张近东), chairman of Chinese appliance retailer Suning, gave his two cents worth by suggesting that the full May Day Golden Week holiday should be re-instated as this would encourage domestic consumption and improve the lives of average people. Zhang also suggested that China’s legal system should be further reformed to encourage entrepreneurship and to create a healthy and fair environment for the rapidly growing e-commerce market.

The chairman of car manufacturer Geely, Li Shufu (李书福), on the other hand, wants to see some legislation on air quality, the raising of the individual tax threshold, and the opening of China’s taxi industry. Chen Lijun (陈励君), a business leader in the solar panel industry, had a completely different kind of suggestion: she wants to see civil service posts in China opened to foreign talent.

All these suggestions caused heated discussion on the Internet, if not in the Great Hall of the People.


Links and sources
Entrepreneurs’ Daily (企业家日报): 两会上的企业家“好声音”

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