Southern Weekend: “How to Solve China’s ‘Brain Drain'”

The issue of “brain drain” has been a topic of discussion in China for some time. As China’s best students are offered opportunities to study and work abroad, the nation is finding they often don’t choose to return, and the national resources used to raise and educate them are, in essence, wasted. A 2007 survey suggested that 70% of Chinese students who study abrtoad don’t ever move back to China, and while some suggest that the situation is not that dire, it is certainly clear that China wants ways to attract overseas talent. And these days, they’re not just after study abroad kids who got green cards and never came back, they’re also looking to lure purely foreign talents to Chinese soil.

How can this be accomplished? In a recent op-ed piece in Southern Weekend, Wang Huiyao offers some ideas:

  1. Allow immigration visas for both technical specialists and people who can benefit “national interest”. Attract high level foreign talent to settle down in China with a visa, then apply for a green card, and finally become naturalized citizens. Finally, permit foreigners with talent and education who can benefit the nation to immigrate via visas and apply for green cards even if they are not technical or economic specialists so that they can benefit Chinese education, culture, health, etc.
  2. People at the highest level can directly apply for green cards. Nobel Prize winners, Fortune 500 CEOs, professors at foreign brand-name schools, international leaders in science, the arts, culture, etc., who have achieved outstanding success in their fields — all of them can apply directly for green cards. Those who have invested more than 1 million USD in China or created more than ten jobs in specific professions [in China] can directly apply for an “investor green card”.
  3. A public path from green card to naturalized citizenship. Those who posess a green card and have lived in China longer than 3-5 years may apply to become naturalized citizens if they wish.
  4. For those originally from China and those who were forced to give up Chinese citizenship, grant long-term “overseas compatriot” visa exemptions. At present there’s no dual-citizenship policy, so consider simplifying visa application procedures and directly granting long-term residence permits for those of Chinese origin but born abroad who can be considered high-level talents.
  5. Increase the recruitment of foreign students [to come to China to study]. There are more than a million Chinese students studying abroad in other countries, but little more than 200,000 foreign students studying in China.
  6. Create a mechnaism for attracting international talent, smash the barriers between domestic and foreign within the [extant] system. International experience could become a criterion for promoting cadres, and State-owned enterprises should not make nationality a restriction in their search for talent.
  7. We can consider tacit approval of dual citizenship.

It’s going to take a lot more than that to attract high-level foreign talents to China, although making navigation of the immigration system easier is probably a good first step. Still, Wang seems to be missing the point here. The important question is: what is it about China that causes students who go abroad to abandon it in the first place? After four years of studying abroad, any Chinese student could quite easily return home without any visa or naturalization issues — they would still be Chinese citizens at that point — but they choose not to. Why?

Moreover, is the reason more foreign talents in business and culture haven’t moved to China really that the immigration procedures are too difficult? The United States has — and has had for some time — a nortoriously labyrinthine and strict naturalization process, and yet many Chinese students thrown themselves into it voluntarily upon conclusion of their studies. Why aren’t foreigners willing to do the same thing in China?

The answer to that question is almost certainly quite complex. But how difficult the answer is to uncover doesn’t matter; China is unlikely to ever arrive at an answer if they aren’t asking the right question.

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0 thoughts on “Southern Weekend: “How to Solve China’s ‘Brain Drain'””

  1. You seem to assume that those who study abroad decide to stay there once they are there. I would like to argue that those who study abroad are doing so because they see it as the best opportunity to leave China. This path does not yet exist the other way around. Increasing the opportunity to build a life in China by allowing green-cards and naturalization will certainly help. I expect this will attract Asian and African talent instantly with European and American talent to follow once they see through the anti-Chinese propaganda.

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  2. @ Jeff: Certainly, some Chinese students go abroad with that in mind, but I highly doubt if you asked most first year university students most of them would say they don’t plan to move back to China after graduation. And what do you mean that path doesn’t exist the other way around? It is FAR easier to stay in China long-term (legally) than the US. Granted, getting a green card is difficult and it’s pretty much impossible to become a naturalized citizen, but who cares? Plenty of people stay more or less indefinitely without either of those things. If there were really droves of foreigners seeking to immigrate to China, what’s stopping them from coming right now?

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  3. I have to agree with @Jeff on this one. I lived in Wuhan for three years, and now I am pursuing a PhD in engineering back in the US. Many (I would even say most) of my classmates are Chinese. Also, a great deal of my friends here are Chinese. They are all brilliant students who could do a lot for China if they moved back after graduation. However, they are bending over backwards to stay here in the US (which IS a notoriously difficult process; it took me 5 months to get my Chinese wife a green card, and that was a BREEZE compared to what other Chinese go through). Most of them see the US as the land of opportunity, while they view the Chinese job market as kind of dead end. Also, if they don’t have a degree from Stanford or MIT or Harvard, their US degrees don’t get any respect back in China. If China really wants to attract those students back to China, they need to create better opportunities for employment and advancement for those students, both in perception and reality. I think that attracting their own to come back would be long-term easier and more cost-effective than heavily investing in attracting foreign talent.

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  4. I once heard that since 2007 (or was it 2008?) the number of Chinese leaving China has started to be lower than the number of Chinese going back.

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  5. Re attracting foreign talent: I agree with the idea that China has to first find ways to make people want to even become Chinese green-card holders / citizens. The US immigration system is a mess, and it speaks volumes to the perceived value of becoming a US permanent resident that there is no real motivation to make it more streamlined.

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  6. It isn’t just a VISA issues, for most foreigners getting VISAs is easy. But here’s the problem, why would any nobel prize winner want to go to a country where intellectualism and independent thinking is heavily discouraged both by political, educational, and cultural systems? China’s backwards culture is ultimately the root of most of its problems (especially censorship), and until it stops obsessing about how “old” it is and modernizes then real change wont happen in China of any kind.

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  7. Here’s something interesting and vaguely relevant to this discussion: apparently, 77% of Chinese people would rather be Canadian.

    There’s not much detail on how, exactly, this data was collected, so get out your salt grains, etc. etc., but still…interesting.

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  8. Economically, China is progressing, but there are a lot of social problems. It’s ironic for a country which calls itself a socialist country…
    Students are not being prepared for the stressful society. Employees have low pay, no legal protection or even suppression and censorship if someone wants to voice a protest.
    Also, employers are not keen on following the law, like letting the employees to work overtime without extra pay, and not paying wages according to the job, but to the age or experience of the employee. Usually the pay is just enough, or even not enough to sustain life in the city, and you’ll need to ask your parents for financial help.
    If you have no connections with the government, you’re not rich and you’re not working for the government (official, army or police), life is quite hard and stressful.

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  9. @outcast:

    Spot on. I have been teaching in a Chinese university for two years now. I once had a student ask me during a class (a rather unusual occurrence itself!), “What is critical thinking?” Talk about not being prepared to enter the society…

    The education system in China is teacher-centered. Teachers speak, students listen. I often walk past my colleagues’ classrooms to see them standing at the lectern, reading verbatim the text from a book. How can this ever appeal to a Western student?

    China’s education system has a long way to go if it is going to attract foreign talent. Wang Huiyao, as the author pointed out, has completely missed the point!

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  10. @pete

    I’ve also seen plenty of western people commenting on this subject, but when they do they’ll often bring up Japan as a good example without realizing that the Japanese system relies on exactly the same teaching methods and heavy dependence on exams. With so little understanding of why the system is this way, it makes having intelligent discourse about it very difficult. Congradulations for not falling into that trap.

    Ultimately this is a problem of culture. You want to change things, you have to change their way of thinking.

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  11. First, there has to be enough foreign talent to go around; most of them just go to the US and Europe.

    China should focus on attracting Overseas Chinese or other East Asian ethnic groups, who will not see the culture as intolerable.

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  12. I didn’t realize that Japan uses the same system. I suppose the big difference between the two would be that China’s education system ultimately answers to the Communist Party and its ideologies, and that critical or independent thinking is stifled because it’s a threat to the Party. Any thoughts?

    I think it’s also important to look at this issue in the context of current economic conditions around the world. The survey cited in the article is from 2007. While the rest of world has stagnated in terms of job growth and is only beginning to recover, China’s growth had only slowed–momentarily–when the crisis struck in 2008. It’s likely that more recent figures would show that a higher percentage of Chinese students studying abroad have returned to China in the last 2-3 years, because although the competition in China’s job market is fierce, countries like the U.S. who were affected by the crisis just don’t have many jobs available.

    A look at statistics from other countries might also be relevant to this discussion. The rate of students who go abroad and stay abroad in China is 70%; what is the percentage for the US, Canada, and EU? What is the norm? In the US, the biggest percentage (36% as of 2009 according to an IIE report – http://opendoors.iienetwork.org/page/150832/) of students going abroad do so for just one semester in their 3rd year of university. They then return to complete their studies at their home university. Quite different from an international student studying abroad for the entirety of their degree–the students doing their entire degree abroad are probably much more likely to stay in their host country than to return, simply because they are completing their degrees abroad and have more time/opportunities to make connections in their fields, have more time to adjust to life abroad, etc.

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  13. “I didn’t realize that Japan uses the same system. I suppose the big difference between the two would be that China’s education system ultimately answers to the Communist Party and its ideologies, and that critical or independent thinking is stifled because it’s a threat to the Party. Any thoughts?”

    While that’s true to some extent, even if it didn’t answer to the party it would still suffer the same problems with discouraging independent thinking. I’m also going to point to South Korea, because it too has many of the same systems. The fact is it is the culture itself that tries to repress critical and independent thinking far more than anything else. However, in Japan and South Korea, neither of these countries were willing to let go of their feudal traditions, and this is the natural result. In China at least it is starting to change and modernize. However, until that happens, even if China was a democracy it’s education system would still be based on rote learning and exams.

    The other unfortunate tendency of many western observers is an unwillingness to admit that culture could possibly be the cause of a problem, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

    “It’s likely that more recent figures would show that a higher percentage of Chinese students studying abroad have returned to China in the last 2-3 years, because although the competition in China’s job market is fierce, countries like the U.S. who were affected by the crisis just don’t have many jobs available.”

    While it is true that more are coming back now compared with before, the majority of them are still staying there. Even though US immigrations really is a mess, people are still willing to go through it in order to live there. It isn’t just about money, it’s about being able to have a free life. Free of oppressive feudal culture and politics.

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  14. Pete-
    “I suppose the big difference between the two would be that China’s education system ultimately answers to the Communist Party and its ideologies, and that critical or independent thinking is stifled because it’s a threat to the Party. Any thoughts?”

    It’s pretty hard to stifle critical and independent thinking. Most people aren’t really capable of it- it’s just that in the West, idiots are deluded into thinking they are. That, and it’s not a threat to the party.

    The reason why East Asian educational systems heavily emphasize rote learning and memorization is because 1) It’s COST EFFECTIVE and 2) it teaches the average person discipline.

    They spend far less, as a percentage of GDP or as a flat sum, than Westerners on education. This is one of the underlying problems that Westerners ignore, because it’s not so easy to insinuate some kind of inherent “Western/white superiority” in this case, as opposed to the laughable “we’re so creative!” dreck that they love to spew.

    outcast-
    “Even though US immigrations really is a mess, people are still willing to go through it in order to live there. It isn’t just about money, it’s about being able to have a free life. Free of oppressive feudal culture and politics.”

    Are you joking? No, they don’t go back because the PAY is higher. You don’t need to do so much thinking in circles and ignore the OBVIOUS answer. Western culture is far more feudal and oppressive than China’s, it’s just that in the case of the West it’s the so-called “individual” doing it, rather than “authority”.

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  15. “Ultimately this is a problem of culture. You want to change things, you have to change their way of thinking.”

    It has absolutely nothing to do with culture. Rote and memorization is not part of Confucian culture; an emphasis on tests is.

    The main problem is underfunded educational systems and East Asian educators simply going “hrm, we have higher scores than Westerners so why should we change?”

    The West’s educational system is a massive resource drain that produces no results, but it’s still better than East Asia’s horribly underfunded and dilapidated industrial educational system.

    This is why Asian Americans outscore East Asians, despite generally being less bright than their peers in their homelands.

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  16. @Truth Speaker:

    A nation of 1.3 billion obedient, disciplined citizens, educated using a curriculum set by the Party–would you consider this a threat to that authoritarian regime? Surely much less of a threat than a nation of 1.3 billion independent thinkers.

    Higher test scores? In my experience, higher test scores (in China, I can’t speak for Japan/S. Korea!) are the result of ‘teaching to the test’. That, and rather than revision, a Chinese teacher will put the answers to exam questions on the blackboard prior to the exam, something along these lines:

    1-5 AABCA
    6-10 BABCD

    I suppose cost-effectiveness depends on how the products are put to use. With China, many college graduates aspire to get jobs in the government in order to secure themselves financially; so yes, if obedience and discipline are all that we’re concerned with, you would be right. However, education is (or should be) much more than obedience training. Without those independent thinkers, innovation would stagnate, the sciences would die…China is certainly not leading the pack when it comes to innovation.

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  17. “A nation of 1.3 billion obedient, disciplined citizens, educated using a curriculum set by the Party–would you consider this a threat to that authoritarian regime? Surely much less of a threat than a nation of 1.3 billion independent thinkers.”

    Neither are a threat, you probably aren’t one but you sound like some teacher trying to oversell the shit American educational system. Chinese people are independent thinkers- they aren’t slaves to the church, mass media and megacorporations like Americans. They are however intellectually fatigued by the curriculum.

    “Higher test scores? In my experience, higher test scores (in China, I can’t speak for Japan/S. Korea!) are the result of ‘teaching to the test’.”

    They don’t “teach to the test” for PISA, TUMSS, etc

    “That, and rather than revision, a Chinese teacher will put the answers to exam questions on the blackboard prior to the exam, something along these lines:”

    That’s one school. In America there are teachers who respond to abuse of female students by raping them in front of the entire class, that’s obviously not the norm.

    “However, education is (or should be) much more than obedience training. Without those independent thinkers, innovation would stagnate, the sciences would die…China is certainly not leading the pack when it comes to innovation.”

    Yes clearly this is all about a cultural defect, not the fact that China has a miniscule R&D budget and is generally underdeveloped.

    Regardless, China’s volume and quality of patents and papers is increasing every year, they rank the highest among developing nations in innovation according to the economists (partially bullshit) innovation index.

    That and Japan produces many more patents than the US in terms of patents per GDP, patents per capita, patents per R&D dollar spent, highly sourced and not- even despite their awful, underfunded educational system. And 25% of their researchers aren’t foreigners like in America.

    The notion that you can “teach” creativity and genius to students is completely unfounded- the Chinese system could benefit from some relaxation of rigid rules, but it works in some cases for creating a disciplined industrial workforce.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_patents

    Take a look at this. China produces more patents per $ of R&D than the US, DESPITE the botched calculation of R&D purchasing power (PPP was used). Granted patents aren’t everything, but it’s a bit premature to sneer at and dismiss Chinese science.

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  18. I haven’t said a word about the American education system. There are huge problems with it, as well. I just don’t see any independent thinking in China’s schools, and very little in society. Many Americans may be marginalized by the church or television or whatever; I completely agree with you there, but what does that have to do with education in China?

    As for intellectual fatigue, perhaps this explains the rampant cheating in China? This, assuredly, is a cultural problem. The academic culture in China requires professors to produce papers, many of which are plagiarized. Quoth Rao Yi, dean of life sciences at Peking University, “Academic fraud, misconduct, and ethical violations are very common in China. It is a big problem.”

    Makes one wonder about all those patents–if research papers are being plagiarized and results being faked at the highest levels of academia, surely it must be okay to steal someone else’s work for a patent.

    This issue of cheating is rather hard to ignore, and it is cultural. You are thought to be ‘clever’ if you are able to cheat and get away with it, as guilt is not as powerful a motivator in China as it is in the west. We see this outside of the academic world in China as well; as every few months, another Chinese company has added plastics to milk or anti-freeze to toothpaste in order to doctor results and fool government regulators.

    With myriad problems in China’s education system, it’s no wonder that foreign students aren’t beating down the doors to study there. Never mind fixing the immigration process; there are bigger problems to be tackled, for sure.

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  19. “I just don’t see any independent thinking in China’s schools, and very little in society.”

    Where does anyone see independent thinking? And it’s not just a few Westerners marginalized by the church, but hundreds of millions of them goose-stepping for Christianity like a hive-mind borg.

    “This, assuredly, is a cultural problem.”

    There is nothing Confucian, Taoist, whatever about cheating. If you mean a “cultural problem” as in schools are underfunded (poor teacher/student ratio, lack of oversight, lack of funds), the people in general are overworked, and there is cutthroat competition, then sure.

    “surely it must be okay to steal someone else’s work for a patent.”

    Considering it’s the US essentially validating these patents, I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe there is some kind of conspiracy involving the European and US patent offices?

    “You are thought to be ‘clever’ if you are able to cheat and get away with it”

    Wrong. No Chinese person I know believes this.

    “We see this outside of the academic world in China as well; as every few months, another Chinese company has added plastics to milk or anti-freeze to toothpaste in order to doctor results and fool government regulators.”

    Yet American factory farms spawned the swine flu that killed tens of thousands around the world. There’s your “independent thinking” at work for you.

    “With myriad problems in China’s education system, it’s no wonder that foreign students aren’t beating down the doors to study there.”

    It has more to do with the fact that the average person would rather work in a country sitting on the spoils of American Indian genocide and slavery than a country where you must work to the bone to achieve every little spec of food that enters your mouth or shred of clothing you put on your back. Many Chinese students and Overseas Chinese are in China- with no plans to leave again.

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  20. By cultural problem, I mean that there are less severe consequences or in some cases no consequences if you are caught cheating. We might say, then–that culturally–cheating is okay in China. Whatever the reason is, it’s there.

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  21. But it’s not, you will get punished for it. A lack of regulation and oversight is essentially the underlying problem, which is a symptom of poor funding and development.

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  22. @ Truth Speaker: Nonsense. Cheating is almost never punished, and when it is, almost never harshly. If you want to suggest this is only because there’s not a good enough system of oversight, you’re just equivocating, and you obviously have never taught in China. Teachers are generally very aware that their students are cheating, but do nothing about, for any number of reasons. When I was teaching here, I reported a bunch of students for cheating, some of them I also had completely ironclad evidence against.

    What happened to them? Nothing. Over four different schools, and three different age groups, not a single thing happened to a single one of them. This is not at all uncommon.

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  23. Because clearly you’ve taught in every province, city, village and public toilet in China?

    “and you obviously have never taught in China.”

    Aren’t you an English teacher?

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  24. Ah right, but you have taught everywhere, eh? Take a poll, then. Ask teachers from all subjects across all of China whether they feel cheating is generally punished, and if so, how is it punished. I doubt anyone (save perhaps you) would be surprised at the results.

    And no, I’m not an English teacher.

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  25. Arts & crafts?

    “Take a poll, then. Ask teachers from all subjects across all of China whether they feel cheating is generally punished”

    Yeah let me just get on my magic carpet and ask all the hundreds of thousands of teachers without internet access.

    Here is where you explain how cheating can be part of national culture when it doesn’t affect the whole nation

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  26. No, I’m not a teacher at all.

    Ah yes, well, since you can’t access a magic carpet, might as well make shit up then. Well done. You can mock my evidence for being anecdotal, but at least I have something. (A pedantic attitude isn’t actually considered evidence of authority, at least not on this site).

    I never said cheating was “part of the national culture”; I just suggested that it was rarely punished and that the REASON for that is not just lack of oversight. Teachers know what’s happening, but many of them don’t care, and those that do often find their cases not being taken seriously by school administrators. This is true in my experience, and true in the experience of the many teachers I’ve discussed it with over the course of my time here. That’s not exactly a smoking gun, evidence-wise, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the nothing you’ve got.

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  27. I am an English teacher and I can tell you it is money. I am being paid more money to be a teacher in china then I was being paid to do anything in the US, so I will be staying in China. The same is true for Chinese. That is why so many farmers are in the cities doing manual labor instead of farming. I have a Chinese friend that Hates Shanghai but he and his three siblings are all in Shanghai working because they get paid more.

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  28. “You can mock my evidence for being anecdotal, but at least I have something.”

    You do realize that anyone can make up anecdotes, correct? Again, we both may just have anecdotes but I’m not the one making the contended claim.

    “I am being paid more money to be a teacher in china then I was being paid to do anything in the US”

    Gotta love that white privilege!

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  29. @Truth Speaker: “Gotta love that white privilege!”
    So typical: A one-sided view of the non-Chinese world that regards everyone outside her borders, from Russia to Hawaii to South Africa, as just privileged white people who have it made much better than the suffering Chinese. How do you even know peter is white?
    You remind me of the beggars in Beijing who won’t go after the greedy Zhejiang business man because they spot a pair of blue eyes that only makes 3500rmb a month.

    And from one of your previous posts: “It has more to do with the fact that the average person would rather work in a country sitting on the spoils of American Indian genocide and slavery than a country where you must work to the bone to achieve every little spec of food that enters your mouth or shred of clothing you put on your back.”
    An issue with your idea here:
    Let’s say I’m a college student in America. I can go to my local library and read books about how BAD former presidents were to these marginalized groups. Can all of the curious, open-minded students at BeiDa do that about various ethnic troubles that China has faced in the past 61 years? It doesn’t count if you say they can fly to Hong Kong and read books there. This goes back to the main point of the discussion.

    And also, a bit off the education topic, but your line about “…every little spec [sic] of food” is again putting the world into the two bubbles of poor, bullied China and rich, white “guowai.” Give me a break, Truth Speaker; I live next door to a freakin’ 二奶!

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  30. @ Truth Speaker: You’re not? Because last I checked, I made a comment only to challenge your claim that cheating was only a problem because of lack of money/oversight. The way I see it, the intial claim was yours, and the burden of proof lies on you.

    In any event, from this and your other comments, it seems that you’re here to advance an agenda rather than actually engage in any kind of productive debate, so don’t worry about it.

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  31. “How do you even know peter is white?”

    He talks like one.

    “You remind me of the beggars in Beijing who won’t go after the greedy Zhejiang business man because they spot a pair of blue eyes that only makes 3500rmb a month.”

    Are you implying that Chinese people don’t regularly protest, riot, etc? Some Dongbei mob killed their boss some time ago, as of yet no pampered whites have been killed.

    “Can all of the curious, open-minded students at BeiDa do that about various ethnic troubles that China has faced in the past 61 years?”

    Pretty much. It’s also not about CAN, it’s more about how much the average person knows of the closet approximation of the truth- Americans are overwhelmingly ignorant of their true past, especially the Cold War Era.

    “is again putting the world into the two bubbles of poor, bullied China and rich, white “guowai.””

    The world? Clearly South Asians, Africans, Middle Easterners, Central Americans, have more or less the same lot. I wasn’t aware only China and the West existed in this world.

    Custer
    “Because last I checked, I made a comment only to challenge your claim that cheating was only a problem because of lack of money/oversight. The way I see it, the intial claim was yours, and the burden of proof lies on you. ”

    Ctrl+F ‘cheat’. Pete brought it up. Again, I will say it’s a lack of money and oversight, as opposed to something CULTURAL which you have apparently already conceded on.

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  32. @ Truth Speaker: “He talks like one.” This sentence, along the overall combative tone of most of your recent comments here, make me uncomfortable. I do not believe that your objective in commenting on this site is to engage in any kind of productive dialogue. As a result, your comments will be automatically held in moderation from now until I’m satisfied you’re not just here to yell. I will approve them, assuming you (1) refrain from making groundless and intentionally provocative speculation about other commenters and (2) you can change your tone from its current “I know everything and everyone else is an idiot” thing you’ve got going.

    As far as cheating being cultural goes, I suppose it depends how you define culture. I would say it’s certainly part of the current academic culture, but it’s not like the Chinese have a long history of cheating at everything (although there’s certainly plenty of precedent for cheating being a part of the cultural system in imperial China, where cheating on the Civil Service exam was rampant even though punishments for those caught were quite severe (at least, if Lu Xun is to be believed).

    Out of curiosity, what kind of evidence would it take to convince you that cheating was a part of Chinese culture?

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  33. @C. Custer

    That was my original point, supported by other members of the discussion prior to its turn south–that cheating is part of the academic culture in China.

    As for the big picture, I suppose we could include the grossly inflated numbers of grain harvested, given by local officials during the Great Leap Forward, as evidence as well?

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  34. @C.Custer

    “I do not believe that your objective in commenting on this site is to engage in any kind of productive dialogue…As a result, your comments will be automatically held in moderation from now until I’m satisfied you’re not just here to yell.”

    That’s fairly obvious T.S. has an ax to grind and nor do his rants add any value to the conversation. Still I sympathize with the greater cause of freedom of speech and freedom of ranting. We have the freedom to scroll past his comments and you don’t need to feel obliged to defend against his verbal attacks since they are without substance. Give him his space, but ignore him. Maybe some day he will live up to his name of “truth speaker”, and then we will listen and reply.

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  35. I don’t know where to ask or post this question, so I’ll just do it here. Why is there no RSS for this website and for the different sections and articles?

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  36. “(at least, if Lu Xun is to be believed).”

    Therein lies the catch. Rampant or not, many obstacles were put in place to prevent cheating on imperial exams, such as separating each test taker out into little cubicles, away from all human contact for about a week, searching them etc, but as with anything else corruption can always change the rules.

    “Out of curiosity, what kind of evidence would it take to convince you that cheating was a part of Chinese culture?”

    What evidence would it take to convince you that murdering children was a part of black culture?

    What evidence would it take to convince you that genocide was part of Caucasian culture?

    There isn’t a shred of evidence that cheating is part of Chinese culture. The fact that “Lu Xun” or any other “insider” makes these exaggerated self-criticisms (see Sun Yat-sen’s speeches and writing for example) doesn’t mean they’re automatically 100% true. If you haven’t realized, Chinese culture is extremely self-critical and introspective; you can’t just cherry-pick and ignore the other half of the discourse. When a Chinese person laments that society is collapsing, they aren’t comparing themselves to anyone but an idealized historic or theoretical Chinese society. Not the West or other such “moral exemplars” of our time.

    Westerners have a habit of holding these people up on a pedestal as proof that Chinese society is evil, corrupt and inferior; this is a more subtle, politically correct form of white supremacism.

    As always Westerners are hiding behind the conventions of political correctness to debase Chinese culture and society- I wonder if you even realize this?

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  37. People use the word “culture” quite loosely. But that’s a very dangerous habit. When you start saying cheating, an essentially bad thing, is an inherent part of the Chinese culture, you’re actually comparing cultures. Nobody wants to go over the top with political correctness, but isn’t that the first step of racism?

    Think about Taiwan and Hong Kong and Singapore and other ethnic Chinese communities, if cheating was culturally Chinese the problem would be just as severe in those places.

    Cheating is the dark side of the contemporary academic culture, not the culture culture of the whole nation over the past 3000 years. I guess the moral of this story is, define what you mean from the get-go.

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  38. Truth Speaker does make a very interesting point: nobody dares in American media or in public conversations say that the absentee father is inherently part of the African-American culture, or alcohlism is essentially in the American Indian DNA. Of course people recognize the problem and the NYT for example just had a major story on the latter a couple of months ago. But in that article, alcoholism is described as just a problem, albeit a serious one, not “culturally” Indian.

    Yet you see people left and right making every ugly little thing “part of Chinese culture” on China blogs. It almost seems all political correctness (which is necessary sometimes) disappears when it comes to discussin the Chinese.

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  39. [Unacceptable. Another comment like this will get you banned permanently. Avoid race-baiting and generalizing bullshit or forfeit your right to comment here.]

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  40. Urusai, you are correct in your having pointed out the misuse of culture in this discussion, yet, unfortunately, you, yourself, misuse it. You conflate Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan as being of the same culture as Mainland China. Are you equating ethnicity with culture? Or is it language? Regardless, you then fiddle with the definition culture to claim that cheating is only part of the ‘contemporary academic culture’ and not the ‘culture culture’ in general.
    Do you know how ridiculous you sound? Is general education through public schools not part of ‘culture culture’? What kind of cognitive dissonance are you using to separate schools taught by Han Chinese and full of Han Chinese students through which all members of society pass through from the whole of mainland Chinese culture?
    Moreover I am mystified how you can go from stating a correlation between DNA and culture amongst native Americans. Do you know that there is a difference between genetics and culture? Native Americans don’t pass on alcoholism through ritual or practice; it’s biologically determined.
    As for your comment about absent Black American fathers: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/16/us/politics/15cnd-obama.html
    Please try to find some better examples before you go on about criticizing strawmen.

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  41. Thruthspeaker
    Its funny how you talk about westerners goosestepping to Christianity/media as you sound just like them. Your content and point is different but your idealized “my way or the highway” of saying it is exactly the same. Go to Faux News(Fox) and look at the comments and you will see your peeps. Glad to see the US isn’t the only one dealing with uncompromising close minded ideologists. In a way your just like 50% of the US wither they be conservative or liberal. LOL

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