Democracy with Chinese characteristics: 84 yrs old Shen Jilan elected deputy to NPC for the 12th time; Never cast a ‘No' vote in 60 years of service as lawmaker


Entertainment  Updated:Mon, Feb 4, 2013 09:25 AM   By Bernd Chang


Shen Jilan,NPC Deputy

84 years old Shen Jilan was elected deputy to NPC for the 12 time, on Wednesday January 30, 2013. Shen is currently the Party Branch chief of Xigou village, Pingshun county, northern China’s Shanxi province. She has an academic degree of primary school. 

84-yr-old Chinese woman Shen Jilan (申纪兰) became the only person in China to be elected a record 12 consecutive times as member of the National People's Congress (NPC) or parliament on Wednesday January 30.

  • Shen Jilan
  • Shen Jilan
  • Shen Jilan
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  • Shen Jilan


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84 years old Shen Jilan was elected deputy to the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, on Wednesday January 30, 2013.

She and another 69 delegates were elected at the first session of the 12th Shanxi Provincial People's Congress, the local legislature.

Ms. Shen Jilan is currently the secretary of the Communist Party Branch of Xigou village, Pingshun county, northern China’s Shanxi province. She has an academic degree of primary school.

Shen, 84, is the only delegate who has served consecutively for 58 years - since the NPC’s inception in 1954.

Born in Shanxi's Pingshun County in 1929, Shen has been named a national model worker and was first elected NPC deputy in 1954.

The NPC has convened a session almost every year since 1954, except during the years of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). At the NPC sessions, deputies from across the country discuss major state affairs and laws and elect new state leaders.

’Never represented the people’ – criticism from local CYLC widely circulated before being deleted

The Shanxi Committee of the Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) startled netizens this week by lashing out at 12th term National People’s Congress delegate Shen Jilan in a post on its official Weibo account.

“You voted for anti-Rightists, and you voted for the Cultural Revolution; but you have never ‘represented’ the people…” , read the post.

However, the post on Wednesday, which criticized Shen’s latest succession as “an insult to the representative system of NPC,” was taken down on Thursday after being widely circulated on Chinese social media, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily.

Shanxi Committee of CYLC later claimed that the post was a “technical error.” A disclaimer was issued which read: “We solemnly declare that the earlier post content did not represent our position,” was posted six times on Shanxi CYLC’s official Weibo account.

The living fossil that has witnessed the 60 years of Democracy with Chinese characteristics

Ms. Shen is generally regarded as one of the few witnesses to unique Chinese democracy with special characteristics in the 60 years history of the People's Republic of China.

Shen Jilan holds elected status as a national model worker from 1952 to 1996 and has developed a wealth of political experience over the past six decades.

"My heart just beat like a drum when I sat there," recalled Shen of her early experiences as an NPC deputy.

"Imagine, I was just one of the few 147 female deputies to the then about 1,200-member Congress, everything was fresh to me," Shen told state-run Xinhua in an interview.

Never cast a ‘No’ vote in 60 years as legislator

In an interview in March 2010, Shen said that she had never abstained or voted “no”.

“As an NPC delegate, I must think in accordance with the party’s perspective instead of my own,” she reportedly said.

When her remark became hot topic among Chinese netizens, Shen responded that she as a witness of NPC, would vote for those proposals she supported in heart, and would abstain from voting for those she did not agree.

In March 2012, Shen Jilan said China was practicing democratic election but she never communicated with her voters.

“We are elected by democratic process. It is not appropriate to communicate with your voters. Do not trouble them if they did not elect you.” She was quoted as saying.

And in May of 2012, Shen said the internet should be ‘managed’.

"I have an idea. There should be someone managing the web as well. We can't just let people do whatever they want. [The Internet] should be like the People's Daily. Foreigners are messing up [the Internet]. We can't be like this. We should make the Internet in accordance with our principles. We should not make a good thing turn bad and become a place where people can say whatever they want. Our country is a socialist country under the leadership of the Communist Party."

Profile of Sheng Jilan

Shen Jilan was born in December 1929 in Xigou village, Pingshun county in Shanxi province. She has served successively as vice director of Jinxing Farming Commune, vice party secretary of Pingshun county, vice director of the women's Federation of Shanxi province, vice director of the Changye NPC Standing Committee, executive deputy to the National Women’s Federation.

Shen was named a national model worker in 1952, 1979 and 1989. In 1983 she was named national March 8th Red Flag. In 2007 she was named national moral model.

Shen has been elected as delegate to the NPC since 1954. The National People's Congress is elected for a term of five years.

Ms. Shen Jilan is currently the secretary of the Communist Party Branch of Xigou village, Pingshun county, Shanxi province.

As an ‘ordinary rural Chinese woman’, Shen Jilan has led a legendary life in Chinese political stage. She was received by Chairman Mao Zedong for several times, invited as guest to Premier Zhou Enlai’s home, was pictured with Deng Xiaoping. Jiang Zemin called her a “rare woman”. Hu Jintao, Li Peng, Zhu Rongji, Bo Yibo paid a visit to her in the Xigou village.

Shen Jilan attended the second World Women Congress held in Copenhagen of Denmark in 1953.

She also visited Moscow of Soviet Union, Warsaw of communist Poland, Berlin of democratic Germany.

Shen was also received by North Korea leader Kim Il Sung and Vietnam leader Ho Chi Minh. American correspondent Armstrong interviewed her.
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