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Why Chinese Parents Spend Huge Amounts of Money on Children’s Summer Programs

An essay titled “A Monthly Salary of 30,000 RMB [±4490$] Is Not Enough for a Child’s Summer Holiday” has recently gone viral on Chinese social media, triggering hot debates on how more and more Chinese parents spend huge amounts of money to educate their children during school holidays. Are they simply showing off their money, or is there more behind this trend?

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An essay titled “A Monthly Salary of 30,000 RMB Is Not Enough for a Child’s Summer Holiday” has recently gone viral on Chinese social media, triggering hot debates on how more and more Chinese parents spend huge amounts of money to educate their children during school holidays. Are they simply concerned about their child’s education, or is there more behind this trend?

An article titled “A Monthly Salary of 30,000 RMB [±4490$] Is Not Enough for a Child’s Summer Vacation” (“月薪三万,还是撑不起孩子的一个暑假”), which recently went viral on WeChat, describes how a woman with a well-paid job hardly earns enough money to pay for her daughter’s summer schedule during her school vacation.

The mother, who works as a senior executive in Guangzhou, earns nearly $4500 per month. Although this is 13 times higher than the minimum monthly wage in China, the woman still said she was afraid to buy new clothes due to the costs of the busy summer program of her daughter, a 5th grader at a well-known Guangzhou school.

 

“If you spend this money, it makes you feel bad. But if you don’t spend this money, it makes you feel bad for your child.”

 

The extravagant summer program highlighted in the article includes a ten-day study tour through the USA, a daytime nanny, piano lessons, swimming classes, and summer classes in English language, Olympic maths, and Writing. In total, the mother spent at least 35,000 RMB (±5240$) on her daughter’s summer ‘vacation.’

“The most torturous is that if you spend this money, it makes you feel bad. But if you don’t spend this money, it makes you feel bad for your child,” the mother said.

It’s not uncommon to see competition between Chinese parents over who are investing the most in their child’s education. The idea of never letting children “lose at the starting line” has become a common belief.

During school holidays, China’s wealthy families often send their children abroad for high-profile education. Middle-class parents struggle to compete with them, filling up their children’s holidays with English classes and overseas summer camps. Also at the lower-class levels, parents aim to educate their children during summer to become the next top scorers at the Gaokao (the national college entrance examination).

In the online essay, the daughter’s study trip to America is the most expensive activity of her summer program. Besides special classes and language training, the popularity of these types of expensive overseas summer camps is growing. According to a survey conducted by China Daily on these summer camps abroad, its participants are mainly middle-school and high-school students.

The most popular destinations are mainly English-speaking countries such as the USA, Canada, Australia or the UK, but Germany and Japan also have a high ranking. Although the prices vary, these trips never come cheap. Most of these programs cost around 20,000 to 30,000 RMB (3000$-4500$).

 

“They compare it like they compare luxury clothes or cars.”

 

Through overseas summer programs, parents hope that their children will practice their English, learn to be more independent, and experience “Western education” – and they are more than willing to pay for it, even if it costs them thousands of dollars.

But there is more to this than the mere hope that busy summer programs will contribute to a child’s personal development. As recently reported by Chinese newspaper Global Times, Chinese parents in the urban middle class are increasingly suffering from peer pressure when it comes to investing in their child’s education.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, told Global Times: “(..) if a monthly salary of 30,000 yuan could not support a holiday, there must be irrational comparisons going on,” adding: “They compare it [overseas study trips] like they compare luxury clothes or cars.”

 

“If a monthly salary of 30,000 RMB is not enough for a kid’s summer holiday, parents should do some self-reflection.”

 

Meanwhile, many educational companies and institutions smell the business opportunities and are out to make a quick buck. Some of them charge huge amounts of money for low-quality accommodations or cheap food – sometimes even causing a safety hazard for children. This trendy summer activity has become a lucrative but under-regulated phenomenon, forming a potential risk to children.

After the aforementioned article went viral, several state-run Chinese media such as the People’s Daily and Beijing Youth Daily immediately posted articles denouncing parents’ decisions to enroll their children in overseas study trips. They mentioned another reason for the extravagant study trips, saying it is a way for parents to “show off their money” through their children’s education.

The Beijing Youth Daily wrote: “If a monthly salary of 30,000 RMB is not enough for a kid’s summer holiday, parents should do some self-reflection to ask themselves if this is reasonable.”

The People’s Daily also criticized the current pressure on children in their education, appealing to “lighten the burden on children” and to “diminish the tendency of comparison among parents.”

 

“Only ridiculous people will object to this mother’s decisions. She merely wants to create better education opportunities for her daughter.”

 

The debate on children’s expensive summer program also unfolded among Chinese Weibo users, who are mainly divided into three groups.

One group firmly supports the mother’s decision on investing in her child’s education. They think it’s important and worthwhile. As one commenter wrote:

“Only ridiculous people will object to this mother’s decisions. She merely wants to create better education opportunities for her daughter to expand her horizons and make her more knowledge. Is this called ‘showing off money'(..)? Now that we have these bettered conditions for our younger generations, there’s nothing wrong with using them to help them become all-round individuals. Do you want them to be like you in the future, so poor and useless?”

The second group of people firmly rejects how parents are overspending on education: “What do you want me to say if you earn 30,000 RMB per month but live the life of someone who makes 50,000 RMB?” They also condemn how the mother burdens her child with a busy schedule, ruining her holiday.

The third group of commenters blames China’s education system for the extravagant summer study trips. The Chinese school system heavily relies on comparing children through their grades.

“No amount of money is when it comes to comparison and vanity. It is this comparison that makes children and parents feel inferior and unsatisfied. What if we cancel the system of Gaokao and encourage a system that celebrates diversity?”

Besides all this critique on children’s summer trips, there are also people who bring the discussion to a next level and question China’s class division and unbalanced education resources.

As reported by China Daily, Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou are the top three cities where students participate in overseas summer programs.

Uncoincidentally, these are also cities that are top-ranking when it comes to the highest salaries in China. For parents from less developed cities with less income, the chances of being able to afford a proper education for their children are much smaller. For them, it is simply impossible to send their children on extravagant study trips to America or Europe.

– By Yue Xin
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Additional editing by Manya Koetse
©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Yue Xin is a bilingual freelance journalist currently based in the Netherlands with a focus on gender issues and literature in China. As a long-time frequent Weibo user, she is specialized in the buzzwords and hot topics on Chinese social media.

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China Memes & Viral

Train Fight Between Chinese and Foreign Passenger over Mask-Wearing Goes Viral on Douyin

A video that shows a foreign man yelling at a Chinese woman on the high-speed train has gone viral on Chinese social media.

Manya Koetse

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“She is not the owner of the train! Shut up!” A short video of a quarrel on a train between a foreign man and a Chinese woman has gone viral on Chinese social media.

In the video, a Chinese woman can be heard yelling to a foreign man, saying: “Why can he go without a face mask?! Does he have special privilege? What is he doing in China if he doesn’t follow the rules?” The man then says: “She needs to shut up, she is harassing me!” A train attendant standing in between the passenger seats tries to calm down both passengers.

The incident reportedly took place on the G7530 high-speed train from Ninghai to Shanghai on May 5, where a dispute started over the man allegedly refusing to wear a face mask. The man does wear a face mask in the video.

The video went viral on Douyin, the Chinese TikTok, and also made its rounds on Kuaishou and Weibo (#阿姨怒怼不戴口罩外籍乘客#, #外籍男子未戴口罩还狂怼邻座阿姨#, #官方回应老外乘高铁拒戴口罩#).

The video sparked some anti-foreign sentiments on Weibo, where some commenters called the man a “foreign devil” or “foreign trash,” with others condemning his aggressive behavior and telling him to get out of China.

Shanghai Railways addressed the incident on its social media channel, confirming that the train conductor on the G7530 train indeed came across two passengers arguing because the foreign man was not wearing his mask correctly. In the post, the railways reminded all passengers to properly wear their masks while on the train.

Among the hundreds of people commenting on the statement, there are many who feel the train staff have been too lenient with the passenger.

This is not the first incident where foreigners make it to the (local) news in China for not wearing a mask. In April of 2020, a foreign man was detained in Beijing after he attempted to walk into a neighborhood community without a mask and then became aggressive with local security guards who wanted him to wear a face mask.

In December of 2020, another foreign man was filmed and triggered online anger as he walked around Wenzhou station not wearing a face mask, without anyone reminding him to wear one.

When it comes to train fights, the most famous ones are that of the ‘high speed train tyrant’ and the ‘train tyrant women.’ Both passengers went viral in 2018 for refusing to give up their seats although they were assigned to other passengers. At the time, both passengers were fined for their unruly behavior.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Sex & Gender

Guangzhou Metro Security Guard Posts X-ray Images of Passengers’ Adult Toys

Chinese netizens are annoyed by a Guangzhou Metro security guard posting the X-ray images of the private contents of passenger bags.

Bobby Fung

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Gender issues, privacy awareness, and complaints by commuters about time-consuming regular security checks at Chinese subway stations – on May 7, these widely-discussed issues in today’s China all came together in a Weibo post that soon went viral.

A screenshot posted to a group chat by a security guard nicknamed ‘Crush’ showed X-ray images of bags and suitcases of commuters, in which adult toys can be discerned.

“There are many beautiful girls in Guangzhou,” the security guard said: “..but the problem is that they are not serious.” He added: “My purity is tarnished as I see more and more adult toys.”

These remarks, circulating around social media, prompted privacy concerns. As Weibo blogger @三千院雨Official wrote: “Why can you play with your smartphone while you’re at work? How can these kinds of bad-mannered individuals be qualified as security guards? What gives you the right to take photos of passengers’ personal belongings, spread them to other platforms, and make personal comments?”

The Weibo post regarding the X-ray images has received over 280.000 likes and more than 21.000 reposts so far. The blogger stated that the incident has now been reported to the authorities.

Many netizens voice their concerns over privacy rights violations under the post: “Every citizen hands over their privacy to the security guard out of trust. If the security guard not only fails to work for the people, but even violates their privacy, then public trust will be lost in the long run.”

Some commenters are more emotional: “Is there something wrong with this guy? This is equivalent to disclosing personal information!”

The post thread has seemingly also become a battleground for gender issues. Recently, the feminist movement in China has been pressing for the destigmatization of sexual desire and adult toys. The remarks of the security guard that link adult toys to ‘impurity’ became a target of criticism. “Sexual fetishes that don’t harm anyone are not wrong,” one comment said, receiving over 2000 likes.

Discussions on sexism and gender discrimination, which have seen a rise on Chinese social media recently, also flared up again over this incident.

The last time these kinds of discussions flooded Weibo was in March, when Intel severed ties with its ambassador Yang Li, a female stand-up comedian. Yang Li is controversial for her jokes mocking men (“men are adorable, but mysterious. After all, they can look so average and yet be so full of confidence”), with some blaming her for being “sexist” and “promoting hatred against all men.” Many women rallied behind Yang Li, promoting a more inclusive and safe environment for females.

Under the post on the Guangzhou metro incident, a comment that received two thousand likes said: “This is why girls feel disgusted with men. They want to interfere with everything, not just limited to their own duty.” Some commenters, however, question how the security guard’s gender can be determined simply based on the screenshot, and whether this in itself is a gender bias.

According to the Counterterrorism Law of China, which went into effect in 2016, the subways are required to do security checks on passengers entering the stations. Guangzhou Metro has rolled out comprehensive security checks since late 2017. The policy was met with opposition from residents, especially from commuters who believed these security checks were useless and time-wasting. Also, since railway companies typically outsource security tasks to external firms, the lack of professionalism on the part of security guards and the lack of accountability became a source of discontent ever since.

The ongoing dissatisfaction towards these mandatory checks might have heightened current discussions on the Guangzhou security guard, leading some people to question the efficiency of the checks in general: “If they wanted to, terrorists could simply target the long line of passengers awaiting security check outside the subway station.”

Others complained about the time wasted waiting in line: “People’s patience is limited. I’ll wait and see when the tension [between passengers and security guards] will deteriorate into physical conflicts.” Then there are those who are dissatisfied with the attitudes exhibited by the security guards: “I saw some security guards who looked like they were middle school students, but they were super arrogant. They should really thank Guangzhou Metro for creating jobs for them.”

Yet there are also people who defend this practice of security checks at stations: “Security checks indeed are unable to eliminate the occurrence of accidents, but just like locking your door, they can pose an obstacle to those who are looking to break the law.”

Following the online controversy, Guangzhou Metro issued a statement in the afternoon of May 7, stating the security guard involved, who worked at the Guangfo Line within Foshan’s jurisdiction, has been identified. The company claimed to have terminated the contract with the guard and reported him to the police.

Later, the blogger posted a few screenshots that showed the security guard apologizing to her, saying that this incident has “created tremendous pressure” for him. The authenticity of the screenshots has not yet been verified at the time of writing.

This isn’t the first time security guards working for Guangzhou Metro are involved in a controversy. Previously, Guangzhou Metro had apologized for asking a girl to remove her Gothic makeup before entering the station. Another security guard was previously dismissed for taking upskirt photos of a woman.

By Bobby Fung (@bobbyfungmr)

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Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2021 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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