Tag Archives: humor

In Brief: “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands”

This video has been floating around the Chinese internet for about a month now, and has accrued over 880,000 plays ((probably more, as it’s likely been reposted on other video services; the 880,000 count is just for this one Youku upload.)). It’s called “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands,” and it’s another entry in the vein of satirical independent Chinese animation.

I don’t have time to translate it line for line, but the video and a basic summary are below.

http://player.youku.com/player.php/sid/XMzM5OTgwMjMy/v.swf

In the video, a teacher quizzes students with a series of questions. First, he asks if they know what the national emblem is used for (he points to an example of it on the 1 RMB note). They respond they do: you should run to buildings with the emblem on them whenever there’s an earthquake, since they’re the safest.

Then the teacher asks a math question: if an old lady falls down at 7:10pm, a man 200m away eating a hamburger sees it, the guy moves at 5m/sec, and the hospital is 300m from the accident site, how long will it take him to take her to the hospital. The students all do the math, but it turns out they’re wrong, the correct answer is never, because “anyone smart enough to buy a hamburger would never go help an old woman who has fallen down.”

Then, playing off the “artistic youth/dumb youth” meme, we learn that a dumb youth would kill the old lady (accidentally), and the artistic youth would just take a picture of her misfortune to post on Weibo.

Next, the teacher asks students to count the people in a photo of a luxury car. There are three sexy models in front of the car, and all the students answer three, but they’re wrong again — they’ve failed to notice that there’s a person’s arm sticking out from under the car’s rear wheel.

The following question concerns the makeup of cooking oil, and you’re probably already guessing the punchlines at this point. It’s gutter oil.

At this point, they’re interrupted by a bee, which the teacher kills, saying “this is what happens when you harm the motherland’s flowers!”

Then they get onto a bus, which crashes and breaks into pieces. All the students are killed save one, who is gravely injured. The video ends with the teacher’s ghostly voice trying to explain why students need to learn to face dangers in society (“so that later you can face more dangerous challenges”) and then the injured, armless student trying to clap along to “If You’re Happy and You Know it, Clap Your Hands.”

The whole video is worth a watch if you speak Chinese and are familiar with net memes, as there are a bunch of other ones in there I didn’t include in this summary (and probably some references that went over my head, too).

“Shocking Words” and Government Whining

In recent years, some of Chinese officials’ most famous sayings haven’t come from speeches or Party-line propaganda. No, many of them are off-the-cuff responses to questions that live forever in infamy on the internet, where people laugh and shake their heads. These sayings are called leirenyu 雷人语, or “shocking words”, phrases often spoken by government officials and most notable for their insensitivity, out-of-touchness, and general lofty arrogance.

In fact, there are lots of 雷人语, and not all of them are government related, but some of the most famous ones are. Right now, the newest saying on the block comes courtesy of a high-level official in Jilin who was caught on audio tape complaining about how common people always want “fairness”:

Government leaders should ride on horses and in sedan cars [i.e., should receive special perks and treatment]. The common people want fairness? ((or, “equality”)) How truly shameless!”

Clearly, the department leader has no sense of irony, but netizens certainly do. The phrase exploded on the internet and quickly became big enough that it was even getting news coverage (it was also a trending search on Baidu for several hours this morning). You can read more about it, plus hear the full audio recording, where he says a bit more, here.

It is a phenomenon that speaks simultaneously to China’s remarkably open (even though it’s also remarkably closed) internet and to the ever-widening gap between “the people” and those who govern them. Of course, politicians everywhere say dumb things ((Just Google “Dan Quayle”)), but sometimes it seems like Chinese leaders lack the filter that most foreign politicians have that prevents them from saying things that betray their immense sense of entitlement. Of course, that’s probably because they don’t need it; since Chinese leaders aren’t elected by the people, there’s often no real reason for them to care what people think of them.

Anyway, since they’re kind of fun, let’s enjoy a few more dumb quotes before we get to the point, shall we? These “shocking words” are all from this years’ two meetings, a time when Chinese politicians have unprecedented media access and thus ample opportunity to make themselves sound stupid and/or callous.

“We shouldn’t encourage the children of farmers to go to college.” -Wang Li

“There should be a big gap between the rich and the poor!” -Hu Kailin

“If post-80s guys can’t afford to buy houses, then post-80s girls can just marry 40-year-olds. And if post-80s guys have the means, waiting till you’re 40 to marry a 20 year old girl isn’t a bad choice at all.” -Liang Bei

“Rising housing prices is fundamentally a currency problem; the common people just have too much money [and that’s what’s causing the prices to rise].” -Ma Weihua

“We should really raise the price of fertilizer and pesticide so that they [farmers] can’t afford to buy it. Farmers should be waking up early every day carrying baskets to collect poop off the ground.” -Wen Simei

“The reason Spring Festival train tickets are so difficult to purchase is that their price is too low.” -Luo Jinbao

“The higher the income tax [minimum standard], the fewer the beneficiaries.” -Hua Sheng

And, because it’s one of my favorites, here’s one classic from 2010:

“When [Chinese] athletes win a gold medal, they can’t thank their parents first!” -Yu Zaiqing

(I’ll give you one guess as to who Yu thinks they should thank first: it begins with the letter G and it rhymes with “blovernment”.)

Anyway, all of this brings to mind another “shocking words” scandal from a couple months ago that didn’t get much play in international circles (as these things generally don’t). In an interview where a reporter was asking about a forced demolition case, Wang Hongyi, an official representative of the company who did the demolishing (he was also, coincidentally I’m sure, the former vice-director of the Changchun land administration department) responded:

“Everything about demolition in this country is chaotic, you should go talk to someone from the People’s Congress about that […] you should be reporting on how [the new development we’re building] was developed. You should be reporting how the people make things difficult for the government, causing trouble and extorting the government. You should be reporting how the people don’t cooperate with the demolitions…”

You get the point.

This attitude is actually increasingly common, though, and not just in 雷人语 that become the butt of netizens’ jokes. Actually, the same whiny attitude is evident in frequent official editorials in papers like the People’s Daily or the Global Times that all share the same general message: the public just isn’t doing what they want them to.

Increasingly, this is aimed squarely at the internet. While government leaders are clearly quite proud that domestic services like Sina Weibo are taking off beyond their foreign competitors ((Turns out that’s pretty easy to accomplish when your foreign competitors are blocked, but whatever.)) but they’re increasingly sour about the stuff people are actually saying. The gloating about how “free” China’s internet is has given way to stern warnings that public opinion needs to be “controlled”, how the net doesn’t represent the mainstream, how internet users are low quality, and how the internet is downright unfair to people with pro-government opinions. There have been a number of Global Times op-eds with this message over the last year, though I’m having trouble tracking the links down at the moment. Anyone who reads the paper regularly has surely seen them, though.

You see, society is great. It’s just that those damn common people keep ruining things for the government, who is doing a super-great job and who are truly the unsung heroes of China ((You know, unless you count all that “red songs” stuff)). In fact, common people are even responsible for the recent epidemic of food safety issues, according to some officials!

Anyway, it’s probably no surprise that many people in the CPC, which has enjoy uninterrupted rule and little domestic criticism over the past sixty years, are feeling a bit entitled about their position at this point. But it’s still astonishing in a way; how deluded do you have to be to have total control over a country’s finances, military, communications, etc. etc., and still feel you’re the one being treated unfairly because regular people are saying mean things about you on Weibo.

Things continue to get worse, so I don’t expect that the criticism will stop anytime soon. Domestic airlines just announced that their fees will be going up for all flights because of increased fuel prices, and food prices continue to rise. Ever eager to do their part for the motherland, some Kunming chengguan even beat up some singers yesterday. The criticism will certainly continue. Officials will have to choose whether they want to continue spending so much time and money shutting people up. Hiring thugs to intimidate and threaten, deleting microblog posts, videos, blog posts, text messages, policing public speeches, harassing journalists….at some point, it would probably just be easier and cheaper just to fix the problems everyone’s complaining about, right?

The Global Times, Translated

The Global Times (as one would expect) has decided to take this whole Ai Weiwei nonsense head on. For those of you who have trouble reading between the lines of Chinese newspapers (i.e., no one), we’re providing a translation. Note: this is our first ever gibberish-to-English translation ((Another note: this is meant to be funny, if you hadn’t guessed already.))

Political activism cannot be a legal shield

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is being investigated over “suspected economic crimes,” according to authorities Thursday. Some Western media outlets immediately questioned the charge as a “catch-all crime,” and insisted on interpreting the case in their own way.

Translation: Despite our explicit instructions to the contrary, you annoying foreigners have a habit of “interpreting” things based on sources, factual data, historical precedents, and common sense, rather than the Ministry of Culture’s press releases.

Western media claimed that Ai was “missing” or had “disappeared” in previous reports, despite their acknowledgement of Ai’s detainment. They used such words to paint the Chinese government as a “kidnapper.”

Translation: Look, just because we dragged the guy away, refused to admit it for several days, and didn’t tell anyone in his family doesn’t mean we kidnapped the guy! We prefer to call it surprise involuntary secret fun time.

Now they describe the police’s charge as “laughable” and flout the spirit of the law. They depict anyone conducting anti-government activities in China as being innocent, and as being exempt unconditionally from legal pursuit.

Translation: Just because we arrest a whole bunch of dissidents, you act like we’re cracking down on dissidents or something? Baseless. These guys just all cheated on their taxes. At the same time.

Diplomats and officials from countries such as the US and Germany on Wednesday rebuked China once again over human rights. A mayor from South Korea also issued a statement pressuring China to release Ai soon. Such intensive intervention has barely been seen in China of late.

Translation: We really enjoyed that downtime during the worst of the recession, when all of you shut up because you were afraid we would call in your debts.

Ai’s detention is one of the many judicial cases handled in China every day. It is pure fantasy to conclude that Ai’s case will be handled specially and unfairly. The era of judicial cases involving severely unjust, false or wrong charges has gone.

Translation: Look, our terrible track record is no reason to just assume this trial will also be rigged! After all, it’s not like our court system is totally beholden to some kind of political apparatus or…oh. Nevermind.

Nowadays, corrupt officials and the occasional dissident may view their own cases as being handled unfairly: The former believe their merits offset faults, and the latter see China’s legal system as maintaining an “illegal” existence. Ai once said China was living a “crazy, black” era. This is not the mainstream perception among Chinese society.

Translation: Forget about that whole “economic crimes” thing. That’s so five paragraphs ago. Ai is a dissident whose views are out of touch with mainstream society!

China’s legal system ensures the basic order of this large-scale country. It guarantees the balanced development of civil livelihood and social establishment. Besides, it maintains an economic order that not only propels domestic growth but also generates foreign exchange powerful enough to purchase US treasury bonds.

Translation: Before you criticize our legal system, remember you owe us money!

The integrated legal system is the framework of China. The West wants to bring changes to this framework, shaping it as they please, and transforming the nation into a compliant puppet. They have succeeded in creating many such puppets around the world.

Translation: Our legal system is very integrated, in that it is governed by and answers to the Party. Western, non-integrated judicial systems are merely imperialist plots.

China is not the dangerous place of Western description. Otherwise, Ai would not have returned to China from the US, and Western diplomats and businessmen would not view China as the best place for doing business. But like other safe places in the world, China is only safe for law-abiding citizens, and nobody is allowed to see illegal acts go unpunished.

Translation: China is not a dangerous place unless you break the law. Don’t ask which law, though. We prefer to just detain you first, and keep that whole law part a surprise until we’ve decided which one you broke.

The charge of “suspected economic crimes” does not mean Ai will be found guilty. The case should be handled properly through legal procedures, and Western pressure should not weigh upon the court’s decision.

Translation: That said, we might be totally making all this “economic crimes” stuff up.

If Ai’s “suspected economic crimes” are justified, the conviction should not consider his “pro-democracy” activities. The only relation between the two is probably the lesson that anyone who engages in political activities needs to keep “clean hands.”

Translation: Here is the part where we say something rational, to make you feel like everything else we said might have also made sense. But then we follow that up with a warning about how people who engage in politics need to be careful! Except, of course, actual politicians. Because who are we kidding, they can do whatever the fuck they want!

If Ai is found not guilty, his acquittal should transcend politics too. However the authorities should learn to be more cautious and find sufficient evidence before detaining public figures next time.

Translation: We are starting to feel a little nervous about this whole thing, though.

Comments

This is just meant as a humor piece. In actuality, the Global Times is right that if Ai Weiwei has actually committed economic crimes, he should be convicted, and that his “pro-democracy” activities shouldn’t affect his sentence in this case one way or the other. However, even if these crimes are real — and there’s not a shred of evidence yet that they are — one wonders if all the manpower spent on investigating the finances of a man who makes art installations for a living might be better spent investigating the guys who make tofu buildings, poisoned foods, and fake baijiu for a living (or, better yet, the government workers who “supervise” them!).

In actuality, if there are crimes, China certainly has the right to make that case, and I don’t see why the police should be required to present evidence to the media at this juncture. That said, from a PR standpoint, they must understand that in the overall context of the past few months and in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, journalists really have no choice but to interpret the arrest as political. And the long delay in naming the reason for Ai’s arrest (and confirming he was arrested at all) did not look good. If this is a totally legitimate case, China has a right to prosecute it, but it’s hardly fair to get upset at people for drawing one conclusion if you refuse to give them any evidence that points toward the other.

For the Nth time, China needs to hire some PR people who understand the Western media. Either that, or stop caring what the Western media says.

Me, I’m a fan of innocent until proven guilty, so: Free Ai Weiwei.

“The Sound of Rising Prices”

It may not be as well-produced as the Chinese song about rising housing prices ((For more on how crazily expensive houses are, see this Danwei post.)), but rising inflation has finally inspired its own song.

The song is a parody of an already well-known tune called “The Sound of Applause” (掌声响起来, listen here). The parody version is called 涨声响起来, roughly translated as “The Sound of Rising Prices.” Here’s one of many videos that’s been made already:
http://www.tudou.com/v/kRdTpCGNBok/v.swf
(direct link to Tudou)

Here are the lyrics used in the video (note: the following translations are especially artless as I am exhausted and over-caffeinated, but you get the idea):

Standing at the counter of the supermarket,
Seeing how all the [prices] are rising,
I only feel like sighing,
There is nothing inexpensive,
So many prices have been changed,
Now regular people can’t afford to buy vegetables.

Thinking back on Chinese cabbage when I was young,
When 20 cents bought a big bagful,
I can’t keep from crying,
So many big buildings being constructed,
So many new cars being sold,
But I still have to tighten my belt.

As the sound of rising prices rises,
I feel more and more helpless,
My wages aren’t rising as fast as the prices,
As the sound of rising prices rises,
I begin to understand,
From now on I may have to eat [only] pickles ((咸菜 could be translated variously as pickles, salted veggies, salty food, etc. I’ve mixed and matched here for variety’s sake, but the point the songs are all making is that 咸菜 is relatively cheap.)).

Living in these times,
Are we lucky or is it tragic?
I feel even more like sighing.
There’s no such thing as “good quality goods at fair prices,”
Food, clothing, shelter, and transportation [costs] have all gone up,
I suffer each and every day,
Waking and hurrying to work,
Busy making money and paying off [housing] loans,
My happy carefree life is long gone,
So many second-generation rich kids are buying nice cars,
So many second-generation poor selling things off of blankets on the street,
The gap between rich and poor is getting worse.

As the sound of rising prices rises,
I feel more and more helpless,
Everyone will be eating salted turnips,
As the sound of rising prices rises,
I begin to understand,
We’d be better off and happier as beggars.

[Cue dramatic key change and female vocal harmony]

As the sound of rising prices rises,
I feel more and more helpless,
Everyone will be eating salted turnips,
As the sound of rising prices rises,
I begin to understand,
We’d be better off and happier as beggars!

However, netizens are so enthused about this song that there are already a bunch of versions (all share the same melody and, generally, the same rhyming sounds). Here’s are the lyrics as written in the image posted above, which we found being passed around on RenRen:

Standing at the supermarket counter,
Seeing [the price] of everything rise,
I feel unlimited helplessness in my heart,
So few inexpensive options,
So many prices have changed,
Common people can’t afford to buy vegetables!

As the sound of rising prices rises,
I feel more and more helpless,
Prices are rising faster than salaries,
As the sound of rising prices rises,
I begin to understand,
There’s no industry that isn’t tainted by corruption.

And here’s still another version of the lyrics we found here:

While eating bread and pickled veggies,
I heard the sound of prices rising,
And I suddenly feel like sighing,
Every day it’s radishes and cabbage,
Looking forward to when housing prices drop,
Waiting for my wife to “say bye-bye,”
The floor covered in instant noodle packaging
Is a record of my helplessness,
And I can’t keep from shedding a tear.
I was once confident and bold,
I was once strong and patient,
But in the end I was defeated by rising prices.

As the sound of rising prices rises,
My tears flow till they’re an ocean,
Some people laugh and some people are full of sorrow,
As the sound of rising prices rises,
My tears flow till they’re an ocean,
I finally understand the great importance of money

There are actually a lot more versions of this song, but we’ll leave it at that as they tend to be fairly similar. The phrase “the sound of rising prices” has even become so widespread that it’s referenced in news broadcasts, such as this story about the rise of “group purchasing” websites:

http://www.tudou.com/v/Tc4J880Vijo/v.swf

The Chinese government, of course, is busy throwing an absolute fit about Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize, and doing everything it can to appear as petulant and immature as a three-year old.

I think, though, that if the government is really concerned about things that “subvert state power,” they should lay off Liu and address the rising discontent with housing and commodity prices and the atrocious gap between rich and poor, which is manifesting itself in all kinds of ugly ways.

The incident I’ve linked to there, in which a police officer crashes his car into an old woman and then gets out to beat her, shouting “What I’ve got is money, so I’m gonna beat you today!” is just one of a number of recent rich-people-play-with-the-lives-of-the-poor stories that has incited outrage and violence.

Personally, I see this as the biggest challenge to state security that China currently faces. Unfortunately, it’s a tough one to blame on the West, so it looks like for now China’s government will be content to shriek their Liu Xiaobo conspiracy theories in increasingly-shrill editorial pieces that no one reads (except, of course, when they’re looking for a laugh).

Of course, why should the government care if “Kart-like” Westerners laugh at their ridiculous propaganda? They should, however, be concerned with the tone of public opinion in China, especially on the internet, where a recent Global Times op-ed noted (without a hint of irony):

[There is] a [sic] extreme lack of tolerance for dissident public opinion on the Internet where there is almost no room for opinions that favor the government.

Note that here, by “dissident,” they mean people who support the government. Yeah. That’s how bad it’s gotten.

Good luck, Zhongnanhai. Your preposterous “Confucius Prize” stunt might succeed in distracting people from the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony (at least for as long as it takes to laugh, snort derisively, and change the channel), but I’m not sure it’s going to distract Chinese people from the fact that despite China’s powerhouse economy, living here seems to be getting harder and harder.

Announcing: Parody Photoshop Contest (Win a Free VPN!)

Last week, both The Economist and BusinessWeek had major cover stories about China. And both magazines went straight for the some of the old cliches: red coloring, “asian” fonts, and Mao. In fact, this isn’t the first time for either magazine. Observe:

Of course, there are more examples beyond these two magazines. And we’ve already discussed the ridiculousness that goes on in headlines and book titles about China (“Red Dragon Rising!”). But when last week’s Economist and BusinessWeek came out we were inspired by @davesgonechina to create a photoshop contest.

THE GOAL: To create the funniest/best parody magazine or book cover about China, drawing on whatever cliche images, words, and headlines you choose.

THE PRIZE: The winner will receive free VPN service from Freedur for six months (a $49.99 value!)

THE RULES
:

  1. The winner will be chosen by a panel of judges, who will judge all entries for humor as well as overall quality. The judging panel will include members of the Western media who cover China, it will not include anyone from the ChinaGeeks staff. To assure fairness, the names of the judges will not be revealed until the winner has been chosen.
  2. You may submit up to three entries, in the form of .jpg files. You are free to create and share more than three if you wish, but you must indicate which three you would like to be your official entries.
  3. To submit an entry, email a .jpg file to custerc @ chinageeks.org OR upload an image yourself and post it in the comments section of this post. Be sure the email address you use is the one we can easily contact you by if you are the winner.
  4. You must make your submissions by Friday, November 26th. The winner will be announced via this website on Wednesday, December 1st.
  5. You don’t really need to use photoshop, or be an image editing expert. MS Paint works well, too!
  6. Further questions can be directed to my email, or just ask us on twitter.

SPONSORS: This contest is being sponsored by the good folks at Freedur. Freedur also provides VPN service for the ChinaGeeks staff, and we can assure you that it is fast, convenient, and that their service is excellent. If you’re coming to China, a Freedur subscription is well worth your money (or, alternatively, your time making a parody magazine cover so you can win a Photoshop contest and get the VPN for free!)

Anatomy of the CCTV News

UPDATE: It appears the original source of this post is an internal self-parody written by the CCTV News people themselves in 2002. It was translated in part by the China Digital Times in 2007, and is now being passed around again in text form in 2010. The text we’ve translated below includes a few things that were not part of the original, as well as parts that were in the original but went untranslated by CDT in 2007. (Thanks to Joel Martinsen of Danwei for clarifying this).

The following is a translation of this, a joke that’s being passed around and was sent along to me by ChinaGeeks contributor Andy Yee. It is a satirical guide to that outlines the contents of 《新闻联播》, CCTV’s primary news program.

As the original is composed with perfect parallel structure, I have attempted to maintain at least a semblance of parallelism in the translation. However, this makes some notation necessary, so please refer to the footnotes if you don’t understand what something means.

Translation

Plot Structure
1. First ten minutes: the nation’s leaders are very busy, if they aren’t abroad then they’re in the countryside ((In the countryside visiting and/or helping the common people)).
2. Middle ten minutes: Everyone in the nation is very happy, if they aren’t becoming rich then they’re having great harvests.
3. Last ten minutes: Other countries are all very savage, if there aren’t bombings then there is rebellion.

Story Content
There are no meetings that are not grand;
There are no closings ((of meetings/ceremonies)) that aren’t victories;
There are no speeches that are not important;
There is no applause that is not enthusiastic;
There is no leader who is not significant;
There are no visits that are not cordial;
There is no receiving ((of guests)) that is not personal ((i.e., leaders are always there to personally welcome all those who call on them));
There is no progress that is not smooth;

There are no endings that are not satisfactory;
There are no accomplishments that are not huge;
There is no work that is not solid;
There is no productivity that is not outstanding;
There are no resolutions ((i.e., laws)) that do not pass;
There are no hearts that are not stimulated ((i.e. all the people are excited and passionate));
There are no teams that are not united;
The masses are always satisfied ((This line also breaks with the parallel structure in the original piece));

There are no leaders who are not smiling;
There are no problems that are not resolved;
There are no small events that do not attract worldwide attention;
All visitors are ones this station just received ((This line also breaks with the parallel structure in the original piece));
There is no opposition that is not intense;
There is no negotiation that is not principled;
There is no accomplishment that does not exceed its quota;
There is no Sino-Japanese relationship that is not friendly;

There is no Sino-American relationship that is not cooperative;
There is no completion ((of construction, etc.)) that does not happen early;
There are no holidays that are not happy and auspicious;
There is no route that is not correct;
There is no policy that is not wise;
There are no women who are not liberated;
There are no living standards that are not met ((i.e. there is no one in the country living in poverty));
There is no sacrifice that is not solemn and stirring.

Feeling of the masses after watching:
Living in China is truly joyful; life in foreign countries is too horrible!

Netizen Comments

Collected from a variety of sources including the post linked above, this and this.

“Really too spot-on! Generally on CCTV News the people of our country are very happy while people from other countries live in an abyss of suffering.”

“In truth, I’ve never watched CCTV News.”

“Lord! Too accurate!”

“Hypocritical CCAV ((CCAV is a joke play on CCTV, as “AV” is Chinese slang for pornography (“Adult Video”) ))”

“Adding on: […] harmony is absolute.”

Many netizens also commented that the post, or parts of it, was old, but hey, it’s new to us!

“GaoKao Essays That Got a Zero”

Our ChinaGeeks Chinese editor 三水 pointed me in the direction of this collection of essays from last year’s college entrance examination, called “Don’t Laugh! GaoKao Essays That Got a Zero.” Many of the essays are actually quite funny, interesting, and even socially relevant, making direct or veiled references to social events. We’ve translated one of the essays below, and may translate more later if people enjoy this one.

This particular essay is quite obviously a piece of satire, and Western readers may find it reminding them of George Orwell’s Animal Farm a little bit ((In that it is a satire about a bad communist government using animals.)). It isn’t the prettiest sounding piece in the world, nor is it particularly well-organized (we must remember, after all, that there are time constraints involved in writing these essays), but the fact that it got a zero makes it pretty clear there’s a political aspect to the evaluation of GaoKao performance.

Writing Prompt

Taken from our translation of the national essay question last spring.

The rabbit is the sprinting champion of the small animal sporting games, but he cannot swim. Once, the rabbit was chased by the wolf to the riverside, and nearly caught. For the sake of developing the animals, the management enrolled the rabbit in swim training. He was in the same class as the cat, the tortoise, the squirrel, etc. The golden retriever and the tortoise learned to swim, and having acquired another skill, were very happy, but the rabbit and the squirrel still couldn’t swim even after spending a long time studying, and were very worried. Class instructor Duck said: “We, with our two legs, can swim, and you, with four legs, still can’t? 90% of success comes from effort! Come on! Quack quack!”

Critic frog sighed: “What rabbit is good at is running! Why are you only training the weaknesses and not developing the strengths? Thinker Crane said, “Life requires more than just one skill! If the rabbit can’t learn swimming he should learn burrowing, if the squirrel can’t learn swimming he should study tree climbing.”

Choose the correct perspective, firmly establish your point, choose your own style and heading, don’t write anything outside the scope of the provided material, don’t interplant or plagiarize.

Essay

Supposedly, this essay responding to the prompt above received zero points on last year’s GaoKao exam.

Oh rabbit, after reading this report, I can’t help but call you one thing from deep down in my heart: Stupid!

Haven’t you thought about what a zoo is for? Controlling animals! Isn’t the wolf an animal? You were nearly eaten by him, how is it that the zoo didn’t do jack about it? Why didn’t they punish the wolf and force the rabbit to study swimming? If there was justice, would there be any incidents of wolves catching rabbits in the zoo? Justice Lion is part of the Zoo Management, stupid rabbit!

The wolf chased you to the river, so the zoo tricked you into reporting for swimming class; next time when the wolf chases you to a cliff, will they make you report for flying class? Is the wolf chasing you just to scare you into taking this or that class? What is the relationship between the wolf and the zoo? Do you have a brain? Stupid rabbit!

I’m calling you stupid because you are stupid. Do you know who it is that runs these training classes? The zoo! Coach Duck is Park Director Tortoise’s ((The word he chose for tortoise also means, loosely, “son of a bitch”)) son-in-law. [They sent the wolf to chase you,] and now you’ve turned it around and are giving them money for training! 90% of success comes from effort, come on, quack quack! Bah! He’s a duck, are you a duck? Has it occurred to you that no one in your family can swim, from your grandfather’s grandfathers on down? After a few classes run by the zoo can they really teach you to swim? Is swimming in a rabbit’s nature? Weren’t your course entrance fees a waste of money? The golden retriever and the tortoise are even more stupid; they can swim naturally, did they spend all that wasted cash just to get a certificate? Without a certificate can they stop you from swimming? With one, will the wolf not dare eat you? Here, I need to address the golden retriever: you’ve always been a famous dog, but when running into a bad person you invariably flee, and you still spend money to study being a drowning dog? Aren’t you ashamed?

When encountering lawless people, why doesn’t the zoo encourage you to unite and rise as one to resist? Instead, they just teach you how to run. Running into the threat from a wolf isn’t a question of swimming ability, nor a question of all-around development, it’s a major question of right vs. wrong! Making money without doing any work, I think there’s no reason the zoo even needs to exist! The administrators do nothing, and conspire with the wolf, stupid rabbit!

Rabbit, I’m cursing you because you’re disappointing, why don’t you show a little independent spirit instead of just parroting other’s words and believing what others say? The duck says that if his two feet can swim, your four feet must be able to, does that make any sense? According to that theory, the centipede would be the fastest swimmer. 90% of success is effort, bah! He just became a duck, is that “success”? Is he a peerless duck? Study from him, stupid rabbit!

Then there’s the two experts, those charlatans. I have disliked that frog since last year when he came out with tears in his eyes, but at present I can’t be annoyed by it, as ‘there are more important things to attend to’. Isn’t that what he said last year? Isn’t the current threat of the wolf a “more important thing”? But he jumped out of this weak spot too, that’s his special ability, it’s called diverting attention and muddying the waters. Stupid rabbit! They’ve conspired to brainwash you, can’t you see?

And that crane is even stupider, living requires more than just one skill! If the rabbit can’t study swimming he should study digging! Bullshit, if you’ve already been chased to the river’s edge, is there time to dig a hole? You even believe this kind of expert advice, stupid rabbit!

If the wolf chases you, is that your fault as a rabbit? You don’t even have the opportunity to report it; if you report it justice lion might charge you with trying to subvert the zoo. The wolf and the lion are instruments of the zoo’s government, how could you report them? But if this kind of bad egg can’t be eradicated, is there any path for you? Studying swimming, could you avoid the wolf? I’m telling you, dogs can doggy-paddle, wolves can swim! The wolves are the dog’s forebears! Going to class is useless, next time you’re better off grabbing a pedicure knife ((A reference to the case of Deng Yujiao. Deng is a woman who, when being raped by an official at a massage parlor, stabbed him to death with a pedicure knife in self defense. At the time of last year’s GaoKao when this essay was written, her trial was about to begin and there was immense pressure on the government to go easy on her and punish the officials who survived. Everyone in the China could easily recognize this line as a reference to the Deng Yujiao case even now, at the time GaoKao tests were being graded, it was extremely obvious what the author was talking about.)).

Listen to me, I’m not wrong, stupid rabbit!

The editor who collected these essays commented on this one:

“I suggest the educational system encourage this kind of essay. The point of studying is not to echo what teachers or society like. The educational system will only be successful when it fosters the thinking and personality of students.”