Taiwan has a 'delegation' at China's National People's Congress

The fake representatives are another example of absurdist dramas Beijing creates for itself.
A commentary by Hu Ping for RFA Mandarin
2024.03.11
Taiwan has a 'delegation' at China's National People's Congress Mainland-appointed representatives for the island of Taiwan attend a meeting at the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 9, 2024.
(Greg Baker/AFP)

China's National People's Congress wrapped up its annual session on Monday with its highly choreographed show of support for ruling Communist Party leader Xi Jinping’s vision for the nation.

The extent to which the event was highly scripted and carefully stage-managed was highlighted in particular by the presence of a "provincial delegation" from democratic Taiwan, where the majority of people reject Beijing's territorial claims on their country.

U.S.-based veteran journalist and political commentator Hu Ping takes a closer look at what he describes as an "absurdist drama"

Among the nearly 3,000 delegates to China's National People's Congress, which just concluded its annual session in Beijing, were seats for 13 "provincial delegates from Taiwan."

The group was a little different to the other groupings of regional delegates from, say, Beijing or Sichuan province.

Delegates applaud during the closing session of the 14th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11, 2024. (Wang Zhao/AFP)
Delegates applaud during the closing session of the 14th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11, 2024. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

While elections in China aren't strictly worthy of the name, delegates from places like Beijing or Sichuan would still necessarily be chosen by people in those places, and they would be residents of those places.

But the 13 "Taiwanese" delegates weren't even from Taiwan. They don't hold Taiwanese passports, nor are they citizens of the 1911 Republic of China government which has governed the democratic island since World War II in one form or another. Some have distant family connections.

Keeping up the pretense

They're not actually Taiwanese at all, but Chinese citizens chosen by Taiwanese nationals living in mainland China.

The official website of the National People's Congress says the delegates were "elected following consultative election meetings composed of compatriots with Taiwanese nationality across China's provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities, agencies of the central government, and the People Liberation Army."

They are basically fakes.


The Chinese Communist Party leaders aren't stupid. They know these 13 Taiwanese delegates are fake. But they have to keep up the pretense all the same.

According to Beijing, the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government of China, which -- according to them -- includes Taiwan.

A 1968 “Whole Country is Red” stamp is displayed before being auctioned in Hong Kong on Jan.  27, 2010. (Mike Clarke/AFP)
A 1968 “Whole Country is Red” stamp is displayed before being auctioned in Hong Kong on Jan. 27, 2010. (Mike Clarke/AFP)

There is currently no way to have the people of Taiwan elect their own delegates to China's National People's Congress.

So it has to rope in some Chinese nationals to get elected by people in China instead.

The absurdity calls to mind a situation during the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, during which there was effectively a coup during which major Communist Party and government bodies were taken over by a new leftist regime in the form of "revolutionary committees," which popped up across the country.

The Revolutionary Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region was proclaimed in the fall of 1968, completing the takeover by revolutionary committees in 29 Chinese provinces and cities.

The People's Daily put out an editorial, titled "The whole country turns red," and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications issued a special 8-cent stamp to commemorate the event using the same title.

Absurdist dramas

The stamp's design featured a map of the People's Republic of China colored in bright red, with the exception of Taiwan.

Perhaps some conscientious person spotted a problem and wrote in to the central government saying that there was no revolutionary committee yet in Taiwan, because the island hadn't yet been "liberated."

Perhaps they made the point that it couldn't be claimed that the whole country had turned red, because that would be tantamount to saying that Taiwan isn't part of China.

Either way, it must have suddenly dawned on the central government, because they issued a secret order to have all of the commemorative stamps withdrawn and immediately destroyed.

But they couldn't destroy all of them, because some had already been sold.

A group of delegates poses for a picture after the closing session of the 14th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11, 2024. (Wang Zhao/AFP)
A group of delegates poses for a picture after the closing session of the 14th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 11, 2024. (Wang Zhao/AFP)

The incident turned the "Whole Country is Red" commemorative stamp into one of the most sought-after and expensive in post-1949 China.

To this day, the Chinese Communist Party hasn't publicly corrected its claim that "the whole country has turned red," because it doesn't want to draw public attention to the implications.

The National People's Congress' "Taiwan provincial delegation" is another example of these absurdist dramas that play out under Chinese Communist Party rule.

Hu Ping is the chief editor of the New York-based monthly journal Beijing Spring, and is on the Board of Directors of the NGO Human Rights in China. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of Radio Free Asia.


Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

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