China decline claim groundless, male chauvinism criticized

By Du Qiongfang Source:Global Times Published: 2018/11/20 18:33:42

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT



The founder of Chinese education company New Oriental Education and Technology Group, Yu Minhong, recently came into the media spotlight again, this time because of his controversial remarks on women. In order to explain how evaluation standards can determine the direction of education, Yu cited an example of how females choose their spouses.

At a forum Sunday, Yu said that "If the standard for Chinese women to choose a man is his ability to make money, and that they don't care about conscience, then all Chinese men will be conscienceless but good at money making… The decline of Chinese women has led to the country's decline."

His remarks caused quite a stir on Chinese social media and drew a wave of criticism, with Chinese actress Zhang Yuqi saying on her Sina Weibo account that "[I'm sorry that] Peking University and New Oriental couldn't let you understand what gender equality means, not even figuring out what equality is [thumb down]." Chinese writer Liu Liu criticized Yu's remarks as discrimination against women.

This was not the first time that Yu used women and relationships between men and women as an example about the state of education and entrepreneurship in modern China. Many sentences from his past speeches have become "Bible verses" that have inspired millions of Chinese millennials.

Yu's strategy always has a good publicity effect, as it gets him and his company headlines and, as a result, even more customers. However, his inappropriate metaphor this time has a negative side effect.

First of all, describing China as declining is unacceptable. As the second-largest economy in the world, China has made great progress over the past 40 years since the start of its reform and opening-up. China's international status and reputation have been improving greatly as well. Although there are some occasional instances of moral decay, such as corruption, they are individual cases and not representative of the country as a whole.

Second, what's wrong with a woman's desire to marry up? The ability to make money is a valuable characteristic and very important in any society, not only China. The ability to earn also proves a person's intelligence, which can possibly be passed on to offspring. Thus, a woman's goal is not necessarily only to nab a wealthy man, but procreate talented and intelligent offspring with him.

Statistics from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that Chinese men's participation rate in the labor force in 2010 was almost the same as men in Brazil, the Philippines, Mexico and India. However, the participation rate of Chinese women was nearly 70 percent, much higher than women in other countries - even higher than French men.

Thus, Chinese women not only have high expectations toward their potential spouses, they themselves work very hard to prove their worth while also enhancing China's economic development.

Yu made a prompt apology on his Weibo account, saying that "What I really meant was: women's level can represent that of a country. Well-educated women could cultivate well-mannered children. Women's values could also influence those of men."

However, his shallow apology doesn't hold much water. Does Yu really think Chinese men are "obedient and submissive" to women? If so, why are there still so many women in China crying out against their absentee and neglectful husbands who are supposed to help raise and educate their children but don't? Based on Yu's own logic, he himself is contributing to the decline of China by continuing to perpetuate old, outdated male chauvinist myths against Chinese women.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

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