The streets are tense with security; the people are twitchy with nervous exhaustion. Talk to the citizens of China and the indifference is palpable in the air (or is that 30 percent coal dust?)
Yes, it’s the Third Plenum of the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress!
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last six months – or in the US, Europe, Africa, South-East Asia or Russia – here’s the skinny on why you should really be getting wet about the latest plenum…
1) It was 1978 when the original Third Plenum kicked off a raft of reforms that decisively ended the Mao era – an era which, quite literally, climaxed in a performance in Beijing by Wham! sometime around 1985
2) In a special event to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Third Plenum, George Michael has not been invited to speak about gay rights in China
3) Did you know? Supreme Leader Deng Xiaoping’s famous ‘Southern Tour’ in 1992 saw him play to 28 sold-out stadiums across Wuchang, Shenzhen and Zhuhai – and five school auditoriums
4) At this year’s plenum, President Xi Jinping is rumored to be ordering a digitized revival of some long-forgotten classics, including the Taiping Rebellion and Japanese foreign policy (1860-1945)
5) The latest gossip is that President Xi now plans to completely re-master the Boxer Rebellion as a ‘good thing’
6) President Xi’s semi-attractive wife Peng Liyuan was spotted last week in La Rue Lafayette, Paris, in Europe, buying a gigantic and thoroughly unwieldy lace frock – roughly similar in size to two high-rise apartments in swanky Changping district. Will she wear it on the plenum red carpet? Or has she been purged and is now in hiding abroad?
7) Two Broke Girls doesn’t have a new season out until at least 2014
8) Former Security Czar Zhou Yongkang has confided to friends that he plans to turn up uninvited, “basically drink all the wine… and trash the place”
9) President Xi is expected to unveil a whole raft of sparkling new jargon, including stock phrases and jaundiced slogans – if so, they are certain to be resolutely observed by international markets and middle-class Chinese businessmen
10) President Xi will also unveil next year’s Politburo spring-summer collection – a range of somber suits and white shirts, with matching hair dye and cufflinks
11) Of course, all eyes this year are on reform. Importantly, insiders say a gigantic overhaul of Zhongnanhai’s Soviet-style cafeteria system will definitely be implemented – slower waiting times, a choice of rice or noodles, and larger helpings are all being demanded
12) A daring series of land reforms will clad real-estate developers with new rules: they must ask nicely before kidnapping homeowners, only bulldoze properties between the hours of 10am-5pm (no weekends) and they must also try to keep the noise down
13) Black jails may get a new lick of paint – experts say fuchsia is being mooted – plus sound-proofing in all rooms, following neighbors’ complaints
14) The Party hopes to respond to allegations of ‘dual citizenship’ among rural Chinese by giving migrants full rights to fuck off back to their villages
15) State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) can expect a dramatic overhaul, eventually becoming Enterprises Owned by the State (EOSs)
16) Premier Li Keqiang is said to have spent the last six months exclusively developing a new technique for toasting – one that leaves him clean-sober and his banquet guests thoroughly appalled
17) It’s a plenum – you need a reason to get stoked?