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We will welcome the Year of the Monkey in a couple of days. The monkey is a part of not only the Chinese Zodiac but also many Chinese idioms -

such as "killing a chicken to scare a monkey" or "a monkey calls the shots in the mountain where there is no tiger". But the most formidable image of the simian in Chinese society is the Monkey King; the Monkey King also gives wings to Chinese people's imagination.

A legendary figure from the Chinese classic novel Journey to the West, the Monkey King is still popular among Chinese children and adults thanks to his wisdom and magic powers - with his special pair of golden eyes, he can identify a demon or monster at the first glance.

What I am particularly obsessed with is the struggle between the Monkey King and his master, the Buddhist monk, who always fails to identify the traps set up for him by demons. So there is always a verbal fight between them, which generally culminates in the monk reciting an incantation that forces the golden ring around the Monkey King's head to squeeze so hard that he ends up with a very bad headache and is forced to obey whatever wrong decisions his master makes.

These episodes don't seem to have anything to do with the symbolic animal of the Chinese Zodiac. But there is close association between the incantations the Buddhist monk uses and the way the top leaders at various levels exert control over people under their auspices.

Most of the top leaders have absolute say over almost everything in State-owned enterprises, which central inspection teams' reports have cited as one of the unhealthy working styles. There is hardly any democratic decision-making in most of the central SOEs and local government leaderships that have been inspected, which is not what is expected given the design of the local Party committee structure.

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