Two sessions' VIPs reveal similar tastes in books, clothes

By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2014-03-11 07:31

Some big topics on the Internet give an indication of what interests the public the most in the ongoing two sessions.

According to a report by the Internet science research center at Wuhan University, between March 3 and March 8, the five topics that generated the most public interest were Internet finance, smog, pay raises for civil servants, care for the elderly and genetically modified food.

The ratings were derived from surveys of micro blog posts and online media reports, which are thought to provide good benchmarks of the public mood.

Well, hot topics may be important but trivia is interesting, too. Here are some items gleaned from places like the hotel that is hosting the NPC delegates and national political advisers.

What do you think you might find in the lobbies of the designated VIP hotels?

Answer: an essential trinity - a State-owned Xinhua Bookstore, another stand selling ready-to-wear clothes and tailoring services, and a temporary post office.

I went to the bookstand and talked with a saleswoman who said she had provided best-sellers to the two sessions for the last four years.

The book New Words of Zhijiang sells the best, she told me right away. It's actually a collection of columns written by Xi Jinping for Zhejiang Daily while he was serving as the Party chief of the eastern province.

"The delegates like reading books concerning the nation's development and reform. Some are very academic - common readers don't pick them up," she said.

Another fairly popular one is about ancient Chinese poems. According to the woman, the books were chosen from a list of more than 3,000 titles collected by both the authorities of Xinhua Bookstore and the two sessions' organizing department.

"The books here are carefully picked for the delegates, and we seldom bring the popular books like fiction here," she said.

Seemingly the VIPs share similar taste in books. By the way, they get 10 percent off.

Moving to the stand selling clothing, I found several racks of clothes mostly in dark shades and sizes medium and large.

A saleswoman named Song Tong said the semiformal jackets for men sell best, priced from 900 yuan ($147) to more than 2,000 yuan.

"They like the dark blue best," she said.

At political meetings, officials often wear similar styles and colors, and an outfit clash never becomes a wardrobe malfunction. "Conformity is great," she said.

Also, compared with suits and Chinese tunic suits, the price of the jacket is much more friendly.

The most expensive tunic at the stand was priced at 13,800 yuan, but Song said on Sunday that not one had sold.

Interestingly, such clothes usually sell better among the NPC delegates than the political advisers, she said.

Nowadays the concept of big topics is everywhere. It forms the basis for big decisions. Trivial data is mainly for amusement, but sometimes it is revealing.

While conformity abounds among delegates in their reading and wardrobe, I hope they will maintain diversity of thought when considering what people care about most. Otherwise, we may end up rich in data but poor in meaningful change.