Now That’s Class (or, Why Rui Chenggang is a Dick)


image from International Workers of the World, via Eyeteeth

“the Forbidden City is a symbol of China’s cultural heritage. Starbucks in a symbol of lower middle class culture in the west. We need to embrace the world, but we also need to preserve our cultural identity. There is a fine line between globalisation and contamination.”

– Rui Chenggang, culture warrior

“researcher analyszed the examination result of year 2003 student from a high school in Beijing and discovered that lower class family’s entrance examin result is higher than upper class. The average marks from high to low are: peasant, unemployment workers, small individual business, workers, white collar, management and technical… the lowest average mark, 571.3, are from management and technical background family, which is 38.8 marks lower than the average mark, 610.1, from rural background family…”

“研究人员在对北京某高校2003级429名学生的 高考录取分数统计中发现,低阶层家庭子 女的平均录取分数普遍高于高阶层的子女。平均分从高到低依次 为:农 民、下岗人员、个体经营者、工人、职员、中高层管理 人员和技术人员,与他们的社会地位大致相反。平均分最低的是高级 管理技术人员阶层子女,为571.3 分,比农民阶层子女的 平均分610.1 低38.8分,比下岗失业人员阶层低35分,比工人阶层低26.2分。”

– Quote from Xue Yong’s blog 薛涌:反智的书生, translated by Oiwan Lam at Global Voices Online

“It was reported that at the special meeting of cadres held by the county party and government, the county party secretary Wang Wei faced more than 100 county officials and then said that the death of Yang Daili was as important as a fart! So the death of a service worker is a fart of a matter? The life of a commoner is a fart of a matter? This is so sad that the people of Dazhu county should have such a county leader of such quality!”

“据说在县委政府专门开的领导 干部大会上,县委书记王伟面对几百名全县的官员们两次振振有 词的讲,杨代莉死是屁大点的事!人命关天.死的是个服务员 就是屁大的事?老百姓的命就当个屁?可悲呀, 为大竹县上百万 的老百姓有这样高素质的县大老 爷感到可悲!”

CYOL BBS comment regarding the death of a 16 year old girl at a “black” hotel in Dazhu, Sichuan translated by ESWN

“So what are you going to do about it! This is the age of money can buy anything.”


– comment on Netease reported on Danwei regarding Starbucks

“Mr Rui is already considering his next target: American Express sponsorship signs. “I really loathe them. The introduction to every site says, ‘Made possible by American Express’. It is as if the Mona Lisa had a label saying, ‘Made possible by the People’s Bank of China’,” Mr Rui said.”

The Guardian, again.

“Lifting a rock only to drop it on one’s own feet” is a Chinese folk saying to describe the behavior of certain fools. The reactionaries in all countries are fools of this kind.”

” “搬起石头打自己的脚”,这是中国人形容某些蠢人的行为的一名俗话。 各国反 动派也就是 这样的 一 批蠢人。”

– Mao Zedong

picture of the “black” hotel in Sichuan burning, courtesy again of ESWN

The Discussion: 24 Comments

Well, it’s reassuring to see that China has its priorities straight.

Dave, I put in some arbitrary spaces because the long unbroken lines of hanzi were messing up the margins – feel free to go back in and adjust…

January 20, 2007 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

Oiwan Lam has it translated wrong.

???Z is not high school, it is college.


January 21, 2007 @ 3:25 am | Comment

Burn, baby, burn!

Everyone should click in and read about the girl’s brutal murder and subsequent protest at the ESWN link.

January 21, 2007 @ 8:52 am | Comment

sorry, sonagi, I wouldn’t trust an ESWN translation if you paid me.

January 21, 2007 @ 9:04 am | Comment

And in case you’re curious, see here for the update and here for my original post on the latest time I’ve found one of Roland’s translations to be completely wrong in an effort to smear a pan-democrat.

Life is simply too short for me to follow-up on all of his translations, when I’ve found errors in most of the ones that I have chased.

January 21, 2007 @ 9:10 am | Comment

Hmmm… this may end up as a double post as the first time seemed to hang up in the cgi processing.

And in case you’re curious, see here for the update and here for my original post on the latest time I’ve found one of Roland’s translations to be completely wrong in an effort to smear a pan-democrat.

Life is simply too short for me to follow-up on all of his translations, when I’ve found errors in most of the ones that I have chased.

January 21, 2007 @ 9:18 am | Comment

Just a note: I can’t read any of the hanzi from here. Not sure why. It’s all squiggles and symbols.

January 21, 2007 @ 9:44 am | Comment

Pha – make sure your browser’s encoding is UTF-8. I can read it fine.

Though my follow-up comment with links to the latest ESWN translation debacle that I’ve bothered with seems to have disappeared to the ether. I know I’m p*ssing in to the wind on this here, but it’s at my homepage for those curious.

January 21, 2007 @ 9:48 am | Comment

One of the main issues about differential test scores is the regional bias. Beijing universities have huge quotas for Beijing residents, with comparatively fewer graduates competing for those spots, and the cut off score is much lower. The provinces get a miniscule number of slots in comparison to the number of people who want to fill them, so the cutoff score for admission is always incredibly high. In recent years I believe the cutoff score for Beida has been in the 500s for Beijing residents, but in the high 600s for many of the provinces. In many places, a high proportion of the few spots available go to those hard-working rural kids for whom a trip to Beida or Qinghua is the ticket to a better life. It would be interesting to see if the analysis mentioned in your post paid any attention to regional issues, aside from class background.

There is outcry in the media (especially the regional media) about the unfair nature of the gaokao system every year, but nothing really changes.

I’m getting a blog started that will focus on education issues in china. Still just getting started, and not quite ready to take it public yet, but hope you and your readers will find it useful and interesting reading once it is up and running.


January 21, 2007 @ 10:58 am | Comment


I clicked on the link to the Chinese BBS whose comments were translated at EWSN. The link is to the entire thread, so I cannot verify each message unless I take the time to scroll down and find them. I did read the first few messages and verified the basic facts that appeared in the translation regarding the girl’s identity and circumstances surrounding her death and the fire at the hotel. TPD readers literate in Chinese can click and read for themselves.

January 21, 2007 @ 11:56 am | Comment

I don’t quite understand the figures quoted in the article. I’d like to get a better understanding and to get it straight. I have been teaching in China for almost five years, much of the time at university, and knew that there was discrimination between the provinces and Beijing etc. This is the first I’ve heard of discrimination based on class.
Would appreciate clarification. I wouldn’t want to quote incorrectly. Thank you.

January 21, 2007 @ 1:12 pm | Comment

@Richard: go right ahead, it’s your blog!

@ts: yeah, I noticed that. I guess I should fix it. But I’m lazy.

@Sonagi: ESWN made clear that there were conflicting reports online and they should be taken with a grain of salt. Roland followed up more recently pointing out that a Chinese MSM interview with the girls father in which he said her needle marks were “fake”. It’s not clear what happened to her. I selected the quote because even if it wasn’t really said, it gives voice to something that is indisputably real and felt in China.

@Pha: as Tom said,

@Ihamo: I can’t wait to see the blog. There is a regional dimension, but I can’t help but think that in general that maps well to economic class. How much money does the government pump into Beijing’s schools? How much money is pumped in to create comparable schools in poorer provinces, thus lessening the demand on a scant few elite schools?

January 21, 2007 @ 1:26 pm | Comment


The geographical discrimination in college admissions indirectly results in discrimination by class. This is because the standard of living is higher in areas like Beijing and Shanghai where a larger proportion of the population have high earning white collar jobs than inland provinces like Hunan and Sichuan where most of the population are farmers or factory workers.

January 21, 2007 @ 1:49 pm | Comment

I guess I really should clean up that translation.

PYC: A study of college entrance scores from a single university freshman class in 2003 found that the average scores, across different socio-economic groups, were highest for students coming from a peasant/farmer family background, and lowest for students whose families had management/technical careers. In other words, the poorest students had to make higher grades in order to be admitted to university than students from comparatively wealthier families.

Those wealthier students have better access to private schools, tutors, textbooks, transportation etc. yet they are accepted with a lower score on a nationwide exam than a farmers kid. This, to me, is kind of the inverse of what admissions departments ought to do.

Xue Yong’s blog goes on to argue that the Chinese system should have some sort of quotas and incentives to combat growing inequality. If poor students are discriminated against, cut off state funding. If the university fails to have a certain minimum percentage of poor students, cut off funding. If a students family lives below a certain minimum household income, waive the tuition fee and increase public funds to the university accordingly.

Something like the Beida local resident score handicap that Ihamo mentions exacerbates inequality, mainly because its in Beijing. A tuition break for residents might be more appropriate, like public universities in the US. Using state funds to narrow inequality, as mentioned above, would also improve schools in other provinces through increased funding (crossed fingers) and the quality gap between universities might lessen a bit as well.

January 21, 2007 @ 1:57 pm | Comment

@Hui Mao: I agree about the regional thing, but I want to clarify that we’re inferring this. The blog post makes no reference to regional inequalities, and we don’t have a copy of the entire study.

January 21, 2007 @ 2:05 pm | Comment

Rui is the Chinese Bill O’ Reilly….He’s angling…. Unfortunately for him..the Chinese don’t give a rat’s ass about anything but themselves. Reactionary?…. sure. then what? He’ll move to the U.S or Australia as soon as he gets the chance. ..Very “Chinese”.

January 21, 2007 @ 6:26 pm | Comment

Davesgonechina wrote:

Yes, I noticed that, too. The discrepancies in some of the details, like the girl’s exact height and the amount of money offered are not surprising given that the BBS commenters are simply repeating what they’ve heard. Wasn’t there a similar case at EWSN of a young bar/hotel worker raped and murdered, it was believed, by local party officials?

January 21, 2007 @ 9:15 pm | Comment

@M-80: Actually, this might be (I can’t believe I’m typing this) the one time I’d say Bill O’Reilly compares favorably to some other muckraker. This post was inspired by three things: stumbling on that picture at the top, Brendan’s comment in the previous Starbucks thread (along the lines of “my god people, your country is falling apart and you’re worried about this?”) and third this comment by Rui Chenggang:

“Starbucks is a symbol of lower middle class culture in the west.”

It’s not the Western culture part that bothers Rui (he later says this isn’t a nationalist thing), it’s the “lower middle class” bit. And Bill O’Reilly always at least claims to fight for the lower middle class and the working man. It’s all marketing for the Falafel King (O’Reilly’s nickname) but Rui is flat out condescending to “lower middle class” here, Western or not. Meanwhile, poor people in China are horribly mistreated. The very priorities Rui champions are sickening in light of the daily struggle of China’s poor. That’s why I threw in a Mao quote, too.

@Sonagi: the additional bit I’m referring to was something Roland put in the :

Here is the stark contrast as documented in The Mass Incident in Dazhu County. The Internet version from some anonymous forum post:

On the evening of December 29, she was asked by three government officials to keep them company. At around 2am on December 30, she was found unconscious in the suite room, with massive bleeding from her vagina. According to information, Yang was believed to have been drugged and then gang-raped and tortured to death. “There were many needle marks on her body, several teeth were broken, her tongue was bitten off, her breasts were cut off, her vagina was ripped, etc.”

The mainstream media (Southern Metroplis Daily) interview with the victim’s father:

At the hosptial, I examined her body carefully. There was no sign of injury. There was just some blood inside the mouth. Later on, after the examination in the mortuary, they said that there were many bruise marks on her neck and back, her vagina was bleeding and there were four needle marks on her arm … Yesterday, the country government found a report from who knows where that said my daughter had been raped. But I have yet to see this report … Today, the provincinal judicial department came to do two autopsies. They said that the four needlemarks were fake. We are totally befuddled … I have not seen the [Internet rumors]. I cannot make irresponsible talk.”

The Chinese problem is that when mainstream media go missing in action by fiat, then Internet rumors rule.

I did not copy what Roland included in the original BBS translation from the beginning, because I thought the word “BBS” made it obviously suspect to begin with:

“Please remember: the information has not been verified and they are in conflict with each other in certain details. But you can see plausibly why such details were not disclosed in the official version.”

It might well be that the rape story on the BBS was a cut and paste job by one of the regular lurkers. Or, it might be true and the police are covering up. Who knows. I went with the quote and picture because of what it evoked, not because it was 100% truth. It was the evocation of that same feeling that burned that building down – the feeling amongst those on the lower half of the ladder that they are getting shafted, and I tend to agree with them.

January 21, 2007 @ 11:43 pm | Comment

UPDATE: Wang Wei, the deputy party alleged to have called the girls death as important as a fart, had been suspended and placed under investigation:

Letters From China

January 22, 2007 @ 1:24 am | Comment

One of the translations referred to Liu Chikun as having been arrested for rape and described him as a bartender at the hotel. If this is true, it worries me greatly as I find it hard to believe there would have been such a coverup had it been a bartender who did it, rather than government officials or a high level mining company executive. Seems the scapegoating may have begun.

January 22, 2007 @ 10:35 am | Comment


The way college admissions work in China is very different from how they work in the West. There are no recommendation letters, personal statements, essays, or even highschool class transcripts. It’s pretty much all based on the scores on the college entrance exam. In other words, university admission offices in China don’t actually select the individual students that are admitted so they are not directly picking students from higher class backgrounds. What they do do, however, is allocate the number of students to admit from each province. Places like Beijing and Shanghai and the rich coastal provinces are usually allocated a disproportionately large number of spots, which results in lower score cutoffs for admissions in these areas than in the poorer inland provinces. This is the regional discrimination that PYC is talking about and I believe it is also mostly responsible for the stats cited in your post.

January 22, 2007 @ 4:34 pm | Comment

@Hui Mao: yes, that’s how it works. I’m simply pointing out that we don’t have the details of the study so we don’t know if all the poorer students originate from other provinces. Children of “workers” (actually, I think it translates as “laid off workers”) had the second highest average scores – some of them could have come from Beijing. Conversely, some of the children of “white collar” or “management” parents may come from outer provinces. Bribery or connections could also be a factor for the low-scoring children of the better-off. This did occur at one university I worked at. We just don’t have the data.

January 23, 2007 @ 2:28 am | Comment

@China Law Blog: “Seems the scapegoating may have begun.”

Another reason to point this out is that the SCMP reported, according to ESWN (brief comments section again) an official claiming there was no property damage, no riot police deployed, and a “peaceful gathering” outside government offices. All of which is contradicted by the photographic evidence.

January 23, 2007 @ 2:30 am | Comment

starbucks rules

January 27, 2007 @ 7:52 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.