Personal Note: I decided to share my book with friends and students in mainland China because it costs too much to order one from USA. Enjoy it and share it with people you care and love. Peace, Steve, USA July 21, 2019 firstname.lastname@example.org blog – https://getting2knowyou-china.com
Many of the Chinese college students in mainland China under my care—2008 to 2014—must have wondered why I was never satisfied with their responses or answers until they had answered fully and satisfactorily to the question why. Most students had no problems with the questions of what, where, when, how, and who—the ones requiring factual knowledge or memorization or rote learning—but they would avoid the why, like it was a poisonous plant. The why requires some deep thinking or reasoning on their part, an exercise as alien to them as caring religiously for rats in a Hindu temple in India. It is no secret to the outside world the Chinese education system, especially from primary through high school, is primarily about spoon-feeding the students with enormous quantity of raw foods and the best top students are the ones who are programmed or encouraged or trained to regurgitate them—verbatim in most cases—at test times in their academic pursuits. This is China. In old China and among many Chinese in diaspora, it was not uncommon to witness grandmothers and young mothers would first masticate the food before feeding it to innocent hungry babies—from mouth to mouth, done for generations, like the baby birds awaiting for food in their nest atop a tall tree.
Matter-of-factly a student once told me he was being admonished and punished by his college professor at Xiamen University because he had dared use ideas or thinking in a test that did not come directly from the textbook. He was deemed a maverick, deserving of a reprimand for being different from other students. He received a lower grade for trying to use his brains. Creative thinking or active reasoning is not a requisite skill to score high points in almost all tests. Rote learning or memorization is the modus operandi in mainland China in preparing almost all students for college education. And depending on your majors in college, many could sail through smoothly without having to resort to the use of active thinking or creative reasoning during their normal four years of university education. The joke or saying in China is if you or anyone who can enter a college, you will get a college degree automatically after four years, without tears or sweat. This is China. Do what the professors tell you and your survival is guaranteed. How to succeed without trying or studying hard is a lesson discovered by most students in Chinese colleges and universities. Brains are not necessary to achieve your goal of graduation.
George reminds me of many young people in China today. And it has to do with their inability to “reason”…not to mention many are also suffering from the inability to “think” about mundane matters that are essential to one’s everyday well-being. I was born a Chinese and nobody could or should accuse me of lacking the Chinese mind or
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mentality to grasp the Chinese traditions or culture, which many would use to defend their inability to think clearly for themselves. Most are brought up without having to think about anything because they have been raised as robots and parasites by parents who control them, mentally, physically, psychologically, from cradle to grave. These are the perfect bonsai kids!
It is a simple fact the one who controls the purse strings is the one who has the absolute power over your life, the final say in everything, true in just about every culture, denying you the ability to think or reason or strike out to be your own person and make your own decisions. Most of us have seen documentaries about nature, especially about birds and how they nurture their young till they are old enough to find food for themselves and that critical moment when they try to test their wings and leave the nests to see the real world for themselves. And we watch with delight knowing their innate instinct will empower them to leave their nest to find their own life in the unknown world out there. But not true if there were similar documentaries about Chinese children, the bonsai children…because they are not encouraged nor allowed to fly away from the nests…like someone has deliberately damaged or crippled their wings, rendering them incapable of leaving the nests to find their own foods elsewhere. This is China.
Ironically, Chinese fathers are the breadwinners but they are too busy making money to have the time to control the use of it and that duty is happily passed on to the mothers, in many instances to my surprise, because many of them do not work for historical or cultural reasons. Thus, they have plenty of time on their hands to run the affairs of the families in China, this according to many of my male or female college students because “my father is not home most times and so we would usually talk to mom if we encounter problems or we need money or we need someone to talk to.” Chinese parents, like Italian parents, expect you to live with them under the same roof till the day you depart from this earth. A known fact. An indisputable fact of life in contemporary China. This is China.
Many in China today would blame this on the consequences of the one-child-one-family policy from 1980s to 2015. Mainland China officially implemented the two-child policy January 1, 2016. Whereas as is well known or talked about in China, American parents want their children out of their sight—out of the houses or nests—when they are in their teens! Time for the birds to leave the nests and find their own places in the world. Some Chinese students envy the American youth of this freedom to be themselves, doing what they want to do, at such an early age. But they know very little of the many run-away youth, selling their bodies to survive in the wild jungles of cruel American cities. Freedom at a very high price.
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About a year ago, George introduced his charming girlfriend he met recently in the university library to his parents. It had taken him a long time to meet someone without too much efforts and deliberations and tears and anguish. She was always alone in the library, sitting at the same table each day. George was also alone in the library but the presence of this lonely female creature sitting alone in the same spot everyday aroused curiosity and some sympathy and one day, in some strange way, he offered her something to eat, a difficult charitable act on his part. He did ask me one day what he should do to befriend this creature. He found a way to break the ice. She accepted a fruit and that was the beginning of some friendship.
Maybe George should have learned the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible and what happened to them after they ate the same fruit. When she decided one vacation to return home from Xiamen to Beijing to visit her mother (divorced), she insisted on not having sex, not until “we are married”. Prior to this I had given George as a gift two boxes of expensive Japanese condoms—advised by a student who swore the Japanese condoms enhanced the power of his penis during penetration and endless hours of pleasure during the intercourse. “Buying the famous Okamoto 0.03 condoms (named for their thickness in millimeters) in Japan,” say the Chinese shoppers who throng Tokyo’s drug stores, “guarantees they are getting the real thing.” This appears in a report “Okamoto condoms: objects of desire for Chinese tourists in Japan” in the August 31, 2015 issue of Financial Times. The student could be right about Okamoto condoms. This charming sweetheart denied George his manhood but continued to exert her power and demanded that her name be included in the property-ownership certificate of the apartment George’s mother was planning to acquire for her son in Xiamen.
On the surface it seemed a harmless gesture or desire on her part. But George’s mother was enraged by her uncommon act and immediately told her son to abandon her. Cut the strings. She was a bad influence, by her definition and estimation. George deserved someone better. Not this greedy female. I happened to know George’s girlfriend. She had outstanding credentials that could crack open any door in the business or academic world as she was planning seriously to become a college teacher. It could be her ambition that led to her downfall with George’s mother or she was, probably, too smart for her liking as a future daughter-in-law. For whatever reasons, she instructed her son to drop her immediately like a useless old toy. The filial son obeyed. He had seldom mentioned her name in our frequent tete-a-tetes in the months following this breakup with his first girlfriend.
I wish George’s mom, a high school teacher by profession though she had not been teaching for a while because of some psychological problems in her life, would learn
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or know something about a new marriage law passed by the Supreme Court in China in 2011 concerning the issue of personal or common property in a Chinese marriage or divorce. Understandably, she was against registering both their names on the property-ownership certificate, thus making the new apartment legally shared property. The mother was against it before their marriage but would consider it if the girlfriend would be willing to contribute a substantial amount of cash—maybe 50 percent and no less—to the purchase of a new apartment, which the girl refused to do. She had her own reasons.
According to an article in Time magazine (September 21, 2011), the Supreme Court in China, in its newly redefined Marriage Law, which took effect on August 13, 2011, stated that “any property that was purchased before a marriage will no longer be up for negotiation after a divorce; it will belong solely to who bought it or whose name is on the deed. Also, if a house or apartment was purchased by the parents of either the bride or groom, it will revert to that person only, instead of being split between the couple.” The article continues, “According to a survey conducted by the online portal Sina.com after the new law went into effect, nearly 60% of respondents said they would consider buying a house on their own before marriage to avoid any problems after a divorce.” It is also true in China that some women also contribute money to purchasing a new home together with their husbands and the homes will be registered under the husband’s name and this could pose a serious problem at the time of divorce.
I believe George and his girlfriend could have saved the relationship with more time to understand the legality and ramifications of the newly adopted Marriage Law and why his mother was against her name in the property deed before their marriage. Compromise in some form between the two parties could have led to a different ending. But it was not meant to be. Life goes on.
A year later, out of nowhere George told me one day he had been spending some time—living together—with a girl, a traffic police officer, introduced to him by a friend. He said for about three or four months, a way to say to me or assure me “we are doing fine because we are living together.” It was news to me but I supported his new found happiness because George is a serious young man, and I never questioned his choices or decisions. He would often talk to me about his life and things that are happening to him. He would seek my advice on a number of personal matters. We would talk and discuss and look at various alternatives to any serious issue. But he has to make the final decision himself. He feels comfortable talking to me just about anything from finance to family to sex to government to how to spend his vacation. I felt he is a young adult and knows what he is doing without my interference in his private life.
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I did the same with my own son and would avoid telling him what to do when it comes to the matter of choosing his own life partner. He has to live with the woman, not me, and so it is none of my business to tell him how to choose his future girlfriend or wife. He had lived with a girl from Hong Kong while both were doing graduate studies in an American university. They graduated and both were lucky to find good jobs. Then one day I was informed they had ended their relationship after she got pregnant and he would have nothing to do with her or the baby. She went through with an abortion and left for home in Hong Kong, later regretting “I wish I have kept the baby.” They are young adults and he said nothing about it to me. I pretended I knew nothing of the whole affair. Young adults need to have time and space to make their own decisions. They have to live their own lives.
I continue to worry about the bonsai kids in China. It will take a long time for Chinese parents to let them go and make their own decisions because they will not be there to take care of their adult children forever. This is China.