Chinese cultivated by school system to be selfish egoists

Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/21 18:53:40

An article in your newspaper discussed China's lack of generosity this month. Chinese people have become wealthy in the last 40 years, so it is interesting they are being named one of the least generous countries in the world.

In fact, being rich does not necessarily mean being generous. Frankly speaking, living in China for over 20 years, I admit that Chinese are always reluctant to "help a stranger," "donate money" or "volunteer." Charitable giving is much less frequent in China than in developed countries. Rich people are more willing to spend money on some unnecessary luxury items rather than on helping those in need.

Education should be blamed for this. While community activities are an important part of teenagers' lives in some developed countries, Chinese students are always discouraged from "wasting" their time on those "meaningless" activities. Serving the community can offer no help to improve performance in academic exams, and thus is regarded as a "waste of time."

As a result, many Chinese students are "cultivated" into egoists. They are unwilling to volunteer or donate when they grow up and become rich. Worse still, they have never realized that this is not OK.

The author argues that he often finds a strong degree of "friendliness" and "goodwill" in China. Chinese are known for their hospitality. But such hospitality is selective. It is true that some people are warmhearted to foreigners with decent clothes and manners, but meanwhile they are less willing to help those from rural villages. Being indifferently treated is nothing unusual for rural villagers who stay in cities.

Having little access to charitable giving is another reason for China's bottom-of-the-barrel ratings in the CAF Charitable Giving Survey. There are few charity agencies in Chinese cities, even in big metropolises such as Beijing and Shanghai.

The situation is quite different in developed countries. I have stayed in the UK, which is the most generous country in Europe according to the CAF, for one and a half years. It is very easy to find charity organizations there, be it in big cities or small towns. There were two Oxfam branches and an aid and development charity fighting global poverty within just 10 minutes' walk of the place where I stayed. The presence of these charity organizations will encourage people to donate.

Regrettably, I have found no similar agency in Beijing. "I want to donate my clothes and other stuff to children from rural areas, but I can find no access," a friend of mine complained. "As a result, I have to discard my package of clothes near the garbage bin," she sighed. It is a pity that the development of charity organizations in China lags so far behind developed countries.

What's worse, the public is increasingly suspicious of China's charities following the Red Cross scandal. Distrust discouraged many warmhearted people from donating.

To address the above issues, utilitarianism must be eliminated in China's education. Teachers and parents should encourage students to give and to spend time on community events, rather than focusing entirely on study.

Easier access to reliable charities is also important to lift China's ratings in the CAF survey. The presence of charities will create an atmosphere encouraging people to donate, and authorities should put more efforts in this regard.

Meanwhile, it is urgent that charities crack down upon corruption and restore their reputation in China.

Liu Xiaomei, a freelance writer based in Beijing

Posted in: LETTERS

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