China’s 18th National Party Congress where the country’s once-a-decade power handover is in session has been very well received by its delegates so far, especially the 46-page long opening speech by China’s so-to-retire President Hu Jintao that touched upon topics like reform, anti-corruption and rule of law. These delegates are definitely happy about what they hear and they know it, so they clap their hands and even shed tears of joy.
Li Jian, delegate from Ningxia autonomous region, summarized her experience: “When I heard President Hu’s report, I burst into tears 5 times. Why was I so excited? Check this title I gave to my speech: ‘I’m proud to be a Chinese. I’m happy to live in Ningxia.’” She wasn’t the only one who was bathed in happy tears during Hu’s hour-long report. Guo Mingyi, delegate from Liaoning province, felt no less sentimental: “My eyes were watering the whole time from the beginning to the end of the report. I felt the pride, the honor and the greatness to be a Party member and a Chinese.”
Tears are only but one way to show delegates’ happiness during the Party Congress. Xiong Qingquan, a 86-years-old delegate from Hunan province, showed appreciation in his own way: “Someone asked me how was the 18th National Party Congress. I responded, ‘Good! Good! Good!” I used three good in a row. I also counted that there were 38 rounds of applause. It was a new record.”
Chen Yecui, a delegate from Shandong province, found less clapping points than Xiong but apparently worked much harder: “President Hu’s report was full of burning passion. It motivated hard work and fulfilled our dreams. It was so encouraging. President Hu spoke out all that our Laobaixing (老百姓, means “ordinary people”) had to say and wanted to get done. I recorded 35 rounds of applause in the Hall. The applause never faded. I marked every single round in my report. My hands felt numb after all the clapping because I clapped from the bottom of my heart.”
While delegates are busy expressing their excitement and happiness during the Party Congress, the rest of the Chinese people who are not allowed into the Great Hall of People are left confused. Exactly how many rounds of applause were there? Was 38 a record number?
Chen will surely be devastated by the news. No matter how hard she has been clapping, she seemed to miss 3 rounds (maybe her hands were too numb to keep up). In an article titled “Why the prolonged applause?” the almighty People’s Daily released the official number of 38 rounds of applause: “When President Hu finished his report, after 37 rounds of applause, there started yet another round. This time, the clapping was even more assertive, more persistent, more passionate and never failing.”
But sadly, 38 wasn’t a new record, regardless of how successful and welcomed the 18th National Party Congress has been. According to two other Xinhua news articles back in 2007 and 2002, there were only 16 rounds of applause at the 16th National Party Congress (poor 2002). At the 17th National Party Congress, however, there were a sweeping 40 rounds of applause, 2 more rounds than today’s 18th. Xi Jinping, China’s President-in-line, definitely feels the pressure to work harder to keep his delegates clapping at the 19th National Party Congress in 2017.
Confusions about applause numbers aside, Chinese people who cannot experience the Party Congress first-hand have tears in their eyes, too. Why? Netizen 打酱油民工 explained: “I cried, too, only harder, for the thought that I live in the same country as these delegates.” But there are voices of approval, too. Netizen 加拿大枫树 commented: “The only right that these delegates are free to practice during the Congress is clapping. And it’s not easy to clap. Timing is everything. You have to sense the right time to clap.”
And the best part is that none of these is from the Onion or the Daily Show. All were published as hard news…in China.