Happy Constitution Day! Don’t Mention the Constitution!

China just celebrated a brand new holiday: Constitution Day (December 4). The government has put forth this holiday as a way to signal it’s commitment to “rule of law,” something that Chinese President Xi Jinping has been promoting with much gusto as of late.

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Image source: Xinhua

Here’s what the Global Times had to say about the holiday:

“Constitution Day, which falls on December 4, was set up by the country’s top legislature on November 1 this year after the initiative was proposed in a key meeting of the CPC in October on comprehensively advancing the rule of law.

It is the first time in CPC history that an entire plenary session was devoted to address the rule of law as the ruling party’s policy.”

It then went on to say that nationwide activities were held to promote the Constitiution.

However, discussing the Constitution online was apparently NOT one of those activities. In fact, according the site Fei chang Dao, Baidu banned users from establishing discussion forums related to the Constitution.

In other words, “Happy Constitution Day! Don’t mention the Constitution!”

For some reason all I could think of was the classic Fawlty Towers episode where Basil Fawlty, in a failed attempt not to offend his German guests, reminds people “not to mention the war.”

In case you’re intersested, you can read the Chinese Constitution here.

Chinese Freeways are finally Free…Sort of…

It’s Golden Week here in China, which means that the entire country has been given the week off to celebrate National Day (today, October 1), the anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Before 1999, everyone got a three-day holiday.  But that year, in order to mark the PRC’s 50th year, and to stimulate the economy, the government suddenly announced that henceforth the holiday would be 7 days long and that they expected all Chinese to do their patriotic duty to the mother land by shopping and traveling.

I don’t know whether this Golden Week has had any long term impact on the economy, but it has made travel during this time a nightmare.

This week, with China’s economy slipping into a funk, the government decreed that China’s freeways (which are ALL toll roads) would be toll-free!  HEY ALL YOU NEW CAR OWNERS WHO DON’T REALLY KNOW HOW TO DRIVE…..HIT THE ROAD!

They did, and this is what ensued yesterday, the first day of the holiday — the freeways (especially around the major cities) turned into parking lots.

“This is great,” one taxi driver said to me as we sped (yes, SPED) along the 2nd Ring Road. “For once there are no traffic jams in the center of the city. Everyone has fled to the countryside and now they’re sitting in jams out there.”

Then he threw back his head and laughed.

I sure hope it’s not like this when I take some visitors to the mountains tomorrow!

Image source: Tea Leaf Nation