United Front Stages Unprecedented Filibuster at National People’s Congress
BEIJING — Emboldened by U.S. Senate Republicans, deputies from the United Front, a coalition of minor Chinese democratic parties, staged an unprecedented filibuster at the National People’s Congress Thursday morning to delay Xi Jinping’s nomination for the presidency.
Led by China Democratic League deputy Zhou Qian, members from the popular front spoke for more than 48 hours straight before yielding the floor this morning.
The issue which precipitated the filibuster involved a piece of tax legislation that would grant immunity from taxation for government officials with annual earnings of over 10 million yuan.
“This sordid piece of legislation exemplifies the unequal treatment of the rich and poor in this country,” Zhou began at 9 AM Thursday. “This law will only serve to exacerbate the growing income inequality and contribute to the instability of the nation.”
He concluded, “Thus, I cannot, in good conscience, allow this proposal to pass, unless the immunity from taxation is broadened to include all deputies of the National People’s Congress—not just the very rich ones.”
Zhou then pulled out an unabridged copy of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and began reading.
Though the United Front had been threatening to use the filibuster—a power derived from an arcane subsection of the Chinese constitution—to block the controversial tax legislation for weeks, deputies from the Communist Party of China were certain they had the 60% supermajority needed to end the filibuster through a cloture vote.
NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo called for the vote shortly after Zhou finished the first chapter of Three Kingdoms but the United Front survived it, having peeled enough low-income deputies from the CPC voting block.
Zhou continued reading.
Top CPC deputies convened an emergency meeting to discuss broadening the tax immunity but concluded that Zhou would stop reading “once he got to the boring parts.”
However, Zhou surprised everyone by staying in the Great Hall of the People overnight, reading the canonical work from cover to cover.
In the early hours of Friday morning, Zhou yielded the floor to Huang Haibin, a deputy from the Chinese Peasants’ and Workers’ Democratic Party, who started into Dream of the Red Chamber.
By this morning, all four great classical novels had been retired, along with the Analects, Three Hundred Tang Poems, and the Kangxi Dictionary.
At 9:32 this morning, the CPC finally relented on amending the tax legislation and Wu Bangguo called a cloture vote which passed unanimously.
Formally announcing the end of the epic stonewall, Wu said, “No one expects the NPC to actually accomplish anything, but we will accomplish even less if we don’t resolve our differences and move forward with tax reform.”
After the legislation was passed, loud applause echoed through the chamber.
“Today is a great day,” a bleary-eyed Zhou said before taking a well-earned nap at his desk. “We are now one step closer to the socialist ideal of equality.”
“I am truly proud to be an unelected representative of the Chinese people.”