Gaokao Worship in China

Ministry of Education Bans the Idolization of Gaokao Worship in China Scorers

Chauncey JungMay 10, 2018

Stories of the top achievers of China’s national exams can no longer be propagated by state media; the emphasis should shift to the average, harmonious student.

The countdown has started for China’s national exams, the gaokao. Although the top scorers of these decisive exams are usually praised as champions, the Ministry of Education now warns against their idolization and orders schools and media to use ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ as their guide.

China’s Ministry of Education has issued an official announcement this week that it is no longer allowed to idolize the top scorers of China’s upcoming National Higher Education Entrance Examinations, usually abbreviated to gaokao (高考, ‘high exams’).

The notice was issued after a top-level conference on May 8, which focused on the enrollment process for China’s national graduation exams.

The gaokao will take place in June and always attract nationwide attention – both offline and online – in the weeks before they start. The exams are the most important moment of the year for those taking part; they are a prerequisite for entering China’s higher education institutions and are usually taken by students in their last year of senior high school.

“It is strictly prohibited to give publicity to gaokao top scorers.”

“It is strictly prohibited to give publicity to gaokao top scorers,” the head of the Ministry of Education, Chen Baosheng (陈宝生), was quoted saying by various state media outlets on Weibo, adding that “those who do so anyway will be dealt with accordingly.”

In the Ministry of Education’s announcement, it further said that education departments all over China should use Xi Jinping’s socialist ideology with Chinese characteristics as a guide to their work relating to the college national entrance exams this year. Ministry of Education Bans the Idolization of Gaokao Worship in China Scorers

The exams, that take place during a period of 2 days, are so important because scoring high grades for this exam can give high school students access to a better college, which enlarges their chances of obtaining a good job after graduation. Ministry of Education Bans the Idolization of Gaokao Worship in China Scorers. Ministry of Education Bans the Idolization of Gaokao Worship in China Scorers. Because the exam results are potentially life-changing, the gaokao period is generally a highly stressful time for students and their parents.

Those who succeed in becoming the number one scorers in their field and area, also known as the gāokǎo zhuàngyuán (高考状元, ‘gaokao champions’), are usually widely praised by Chinese media and educational institutions. Ministry of Education Bans the Idolization of Gaokao Worship in China Scorers

Names and photos of top scorers published in 2009.

Year on year, the scores, names, photos, and stories of those students excelling in the humanities (文理状元) and science (理科状元) are publicized by national, provincial, and local newspapers.

Changing Propaganda: From Top Achievers to Harmonious Students

The announcement by the Chinese Ministry of Education to ban the promotion of the top scorers in the university entrance exams became a much-discussed topic on Chinese social media today.

In their report of the ban, Party newspaper People’s Daily published pictures showing how students and schools are preparing for the upcoming exams.

The photos are full of socialist-style propaganda-like slogans (e.g. “trials and hardships strengthen determination”), encouraging students to work and study hard and to repay their parents for the efforts they put into them.

Various pictures show how, to prepare for the decisive exams next month, students in Hengshui, Hebei, bring in meals for the class and then eat together from the same bowl in order to not waste valuable study time.

Instead of promoting and propagating the stories of China’s top scorers, Chinese state media now seem to shift their focus to students’ hard work and collaborate efforts to prepare for the exam.

In line with Xi Jinping’s socialist thought, which also promotes equality in education and the nurturing of “a new generation of capable young people who (..) are well-prepared to join the socialist cause”, the official focus has now apparently changed from top achievers to the average, harmonious and social student.

China’s higher education is extremely competitive, and so is the battle for the high gaokao scores; although as much as 9.75 million senior high school students are going to take part in the 2018 University Entrance Exams, only less than 100 of them will have the opportunity to become an actual gāokǎo zhuàngyuán or ‘top-score champion.’

Inequality behind the ‘zhuàngyuán’?

The gaokao top-score achievers are not just the minority when it comes to statistics, they are also the ‘elites’ of the supposed socialist society.

After claiming the title of 2017 Beijing University Entrance Exam top scorer, the 2017 zhuàngyuán Xiong Xuan’an was interviewed by Chinese media outlet The Paper and addressed some controversial issues on becoming one of the top scorers.

Xiong, during the interview, said that for students coming from rural areas, it is much harder to get into good universities, saying: “People like me are from middle-class families. Gaokao Worship in China We do not have to worry about food or clothes. Our parents are educated.”

He added: “We were born in large cities like Beijing. We simply got better education resources than the rest. Students from other places and rural areas are not able to get these benefits.”

“The top scorers nowadays are, generally speaking, coming from prestigious families.”

Over the past years, Chinese parents are increasingly spending huge amounts of money towards their children’s education, varying from extravagant summer programs to hiring ‘gaokao nannies‘ to support children taking the exams. Spending money on high-quality private schools and tutoring starts as early as kindergarten.

But not all families can afford top-notch schools for their children. Official statistics show that in 2017, dispensable income per capita in China is approximately 25,974 yuan (±US$4072).

Xiong told reporters that his parents are diplomats, saying: “It made my learning path easier. And the top scorers nowadays are, generally speaking, coming from prestigious families and are good at studying.”

Perhaps the general promotion of top-score achievers used to be an efficient way for state media to promote hard-working attitudes and the ‘Chinese dream‘, but the emergence of the more elite zhuàngyuán now has come to show how differences in educational resources have created inequality in educational opportunities.

Weibo Discussions

The recent ban on stories about the 2018 gaokao top scorers is an indication that the Chinese Ministry of Education now wants to de-emphasize worsening disparities within society, but not all commenters on Weibo agree with this shift.

“Why can’t we give publicity to the top scorers?”, author Tan Yantong (@谭延桐) asks on Weibo: “There is so much rotten entertainment news (..) and bullsh*t news, unbearable news, ruining our value system – why don’t you ban that sort of news?”

“What’s the use for me to become a number one scorer now?”

“Then you might as well ban the top scorers in sports,” others say: “That’s also highly competitive.”

“Now what’s the use for me to become a number one scorer anyway?” another commenter jokingly says.

But there are also supporters of the new guideline. “This is a good start,” one otherWeibo user writes: “Elementary education is general education – not elite education. How to provide efficient and equal education is something the Ministry of Education needs to figure out through new strategies.”

By Chauncey Jung and Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at [email protected].

Chauncey Jung is a China internet specialist who currently works for an Internet company based out of Beijing. Jung completed his BA and MA education in Canada (Univ. of Toronto & Queen’s), and has a strong interest in Chinese trends, technology, economic developments and social issues.

China Insight

“6 Things Chinese People Should Know About the US-China Trade War”

Chinese state media say: “We don’t want a trade war with America – but we certainly do not fear it.”

Published

2 months ago

on

March 24, 2018

This image, used on Weibo by netizens, is actually made by artist ‘Sharpwriter’, who sells their prints via via Etsy.

In a response to Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on $60bn of Chinese imports, China’s Communist Youth League has published a Weibo article that suggests that the nearing US-China trade war is similar to the Japanese invasion of China during WWII.  Its main message is that China will not appease.

After Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on Chinese goods last Thursday, Chinese social media users have been feverishly discussing this topic, with some calling for a boycott of American goods.

In a telephone conversation between China’s vice-premier Liu He and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday. Liu reportedly said that he hoped the two countries would be able to maintain stable trade relations. But that China is also ready to defend its interests and take countermeasures.

One online movement dubbed ‘Counterattack the Trade War’ (#反击贸易战), initiated by state-run media platform Xinhua, had received over 55 million views on Sina Weibo by Saturday night (Beijing time). The hashtag intro states: “We do not want a trade war with America, but we certainly do not fear it.”

Counterattack the Trade War Hashtag on Weibo.

On March 24, China’s Communist Youth League posted a lengthy article on Weibo addressing the alleged US-China Trade War. The post is titled “Six Things Chinese Persons Should Know About the Sino-US Trade War” (“关于中美贸易战,作为中国人,这六个问题是你应该知道的……”).

In the article, the Communist Youth League writes that it seems that “at the society level,” “some ordinary Chinese do not have a clear understanding of what a ‘Sino-US Trade War’ actually is.” It, therefore, lists six points to clarify the nearing trade war and China’s position in it.

Wirhin 30 minutes after posting, the Communist Youth League article was shared 4775 times, receiving over 9600 likes.

In its first point, the Communist Youth League compares the US trade war to the Japanese invasion of China:

1. CHINA IS UNDER ATTACK BY THE US AND WE CAN’T APPEASE

“The Sino-Us trade war is a unilateral and provocative trade war that damages international trade regulations. Clarifying this issue should be the basis of all discussions: this is not what China provoked, this is not what China wanted. It is the US Trump administration that has violated international rules and has forced this on China. In other words, it is like the Japanese invasion in the past*; it is not something we could have solved through Manchuria or North China. We are only deceiving ourselves if we think we can reach peace through appeasement or by surrendering. In the face of interests, the desire of a businessman can never be satisfied.”

*”这就好比是当年日本的侵华战争”

The photo posted by Communist Youth League accompanying its article, writing: History proves that appeasement does not bring peace”.

2. CHINA IS READY FOR WAR, AND YOU SHOULD TRUST THE GOVERNMENT

“China is fully prepared for a trade war,” is the second main point made in this article. In which is stated that China has done its homework and is ready to face any challenges a trade war might bring. “Trusting and supporting the Chinese government is the right thing to do know for us,” the Youth League writes.

3. CHINA WILL FOLLOW INTERNATIONAL RULES DURING (ECONOMIC) WAR

The third point made here is that for China, “the law is the bottom line,” claiming that China will counterattack any actions made by the US, but that it will strictly follow international laws in doing so. The article also says that “Chinese and American citizens should not suffer due to the short-sightedness of its politicians.”

4. CHINA IS NOT THE ONLY COUNTRY VICTIMIZED BY TRUMP

The fourth point stressed here is that it is not just China that is victimized by Trump’s decision to impose import tariffs on foreign goods; other countries will also have to deal with these measures and their consequences – and they are China’s allies. China Youth League states: “This [action] may benefit the [US] commercial economy in the short term, but in the long run, it is just a sign of the continued decline of the American Empire,” which is doomed to fail. Gaokao Worship in China

5. A TRADE WAR WILL EVENTUALLY BACKFIRE ON THE PEOPLE OF THE US

“The outcome of any economic war, but especially one between world-leading countries such as China and the US, will impact the wellbeing of the Chinese and American people. And can even bring a blow to the global population. The fifth point says, stressing that Trump is making the wrong choice by initiating this ‘war’, which will cause economic disaster. If China is affected, the article says, then it will unavoidably reciprocate in the US and seriously impact its people. “The Chinese government will do its best to avoid this situation,” it says Gaokao Worship in China “But if it does happen. Then let’s please choose the same enemy and support the Chinese government because, as stated in the first point, this war is not what we want. It is what the Americans want.”

6. THE CHINA THREAT IS AT THE ROOT OF THIS ATTACK

In the last point, the Communist Youth League writes that behind the “China-US trade war” lies American fear over the rise of China. This US fear of a changing international community. Where China plays an increasingly more important role will keep on surfacing, the article says. It will show itself through the South China Sea dispute, an economic war, or Taiwan travel laws. “China needs to prepared for this mentality,” it concludes.

By Saturday night, the article was viewed more than 3,7 million times and received thousands of comments – many supporting the “firm stance” of the article. “You can’t bully China,” a typical comment read: “We have a strong country.”

By Manya Koetse

Copyright for featured image belongs to the artist Sharpwriter. Prints for sale: via Etsy.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at [email protected].

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China Media

China’s Eye-Rolling Journalist Incident – the Aftermath

An update to the biggest topic of the week: a remarkable live-broadcasted eye-roll.

Published

2 months ago

on

March 15, 2018

A remarkable moment during a media conference of the 13th National People’s Congress has ignited a social media storm. A female journalist attracted attention during a live broadcast. When she disapprovingly glanced at the woman next to her posing a rather long and stylized question.

In our latest Weivlog, we tell you everything about this controversy and its aftermath over the past days.

For our initial article also see The Lianghui “Question-Asking Bitch” Incident: Eye-Rolling Journalist Goes Viral on Weibo.

Watch the video here or embedded above. (Turn on English subtitles if needed).

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at [email protected].

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