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The Story of “China’s PhD Village”: A Small Village with 41 Doctors

A small place by the name of Baisha Town West Village, located in Guangdong’s Taishan city, is now jokingly called a hot site for house buyers by Chinese netizens. The village, that has produced 41 academics with PhD degrees and a Hollywood filmmaker, is now known as a fruitful breeding ground for talent.

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A small place by the name of Baisha Town West Village, located in Guangdong’s Taishan city, is now jokingly called a hot site for house buyers by Chinese netizens. The village, that has produced 41 academics with PhD degrees and a Hollywood filmmaker, is now known as a fruitful breeding ground for talent.

Baisha Town West Village (白沙镇西村), a small village in the South of China, has produced an extraordinarily high number of inhabitants with a Ph.D. degree. Its story recently has become a popular topic on Chinese social media, after it was featured by the Guangzhou Daily and was forwarded by dozens of other Chinese media.

The village’s Ph.D. success once started 80 years ago, when the former headmaster of the local village primary school decided to study abroad; he wanted to contribute to his hometown through his studies. Dr. Huang Junjie was to become the first Ph.D. degree holder of the town. He became a role model for the village’s later generations.

Since then the number of Ph.D. holders soon increased. Now, some families even have three doctors within one generation.

The journey of pursuing a Ph.D. was full of hardship for Huang. The Guangzhou Daily conducted an interview with Huang Junjie’s grandson, Huang Zai, who now also works in the education sector. Sharing his grandfather’s story, he said that Huang, receiving no financial support from family, had to work while studying at Columbia University in New York.

After four years of hard work, he acquired a Ph.D. in Law, and then immediately returned to China. He later even became a professor and one of the three most famous lawyers in Guangzhou.

Another celebrity whom the villagers are proud of is James Wong Howe. He was a renowned Chinese-American cinematographer who worked on over 130 films in Hollywood. He was born and raised in this village and later moved to America with his father.

Chinese American Oscar winning cinematographer James Wong Howe.

When Guangzhou Daily asked Huang Zai why he thinks Baisha Town West Village has become such a breeding ground for talent, he answered the village has a long tradition of promoting education: “There is an ancient saying that has been passed on from generation to generation in the village, ‘Even if the only rice we have can fit in a pen container, we will still make sure our children can study'(“笔筒装米, 也要教子读书”). In other words, we encourage education and persuade people to never give up on it no matter the situation.”

Huang Zai recalled his own experiences; his entire family advised him to take the National College Entrance Exam after the Cultural Revolution and to continue studying, even after failing the exam the first time. “Without their support and the social ethos in the village, I would have never achieved what I have right now.”

Another factor Huang Zai thinks contributed to the village’s successful inhabitants is that many of them came from overseas. While doing labor in foreign countries, they saw their education and recognized its importance. These overseas villagers contributed to the local education by starting their own private school by the end of the Qing Dynasty, donating their own ancestral halls and turning them into local primary schools where students were required to learn about morals and values, and were taught English.

Those who later studied and acquired their PhDs degrees never forgot about their roots, frequently donating money for the construction of schools, and holding lectures in their homeland.

Now, the government plans to help make the village more of a tourist destination, to introduce its story to the world. Many of the villagers are happy and honored that their town is now known as the “Ph.D. village,” as it was something they actively pursued.

The village of Yangtian in Liuyang City, Hunan province, is also famous for its 21 Ph.D. holders and hundreds of inhabitants with MA degrees. In Gu Yuantou, in Zhejiang’s Dong Yang City, the villagers are proud of their 25 Ph.D. holders and 553 university students out – their town only has 2200 inhabitants.

The majority of Weibo users praise the villagers’ determination to educate their children. There are also some netizens who say there must be a lot of pressure on those young villagers who do not pursue an academic degree.

Others jokingly say they are going to buy a house and move to Baisha for the village’s “good Feng Shui.”

– By Yue Xin
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©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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    March 5, 2018 at 2:03 am

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China Local News

Sudden Ground Collapse at Metro Station in Xiamen

A sudden collapse occurred near Xiamen’s Lucuo station, just two weeks after a similar incident took place in Guangzhou.

Manya Koetse

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In the evening of December 12, Xiamen’s Lvcuo (Lǚcuò 吕厝) metro station became a breaking news topic in Chinese media after a ground collapse incident occurred at a nearby intersection, followed by a major flood in the Xiamen subway.

Xiamen, Fujian Province, is one of China’s major coastal cities. According to Xiamen Metro News, the collapse happened at 21:52 local time.

At time of writing, rescue teams are still investigating the scene. It is unclear if people have been trapped or injured due to the collapse.

An apparent dashcam video shared by Sina News and People’s Daily on Weibo shows the moment right before the sudden collapse.

The video captures how the road is relatively busy at the time of collapsing, and at least one car can be seen crashing into the sinkhole.

Other footage shows that the Xiamen metro line is currently flooded (also see video in this tweet).

The scene of the collapse at 0:10 local time.

The metro station where this incident occurred is relatively new. Xiamen’s metro line was first opened in late December 2017.

Just two weeks ago, another major ground collapse accident occurred at the construction site of a metro line in Guangzhou. Three people remain missing after the incident.

On Thursday night local time, the Xiamen metro collapse was the number one trending topic on social media platform Weibo. Many netizens commenting on the incident express worries about the safety of roads and construction sites in China.

Update (Dec 13): According to the latest Chinese media reports, the drivers of two cars who were at the scene at the moment of the ground collapse have both been recused. One female pedestrian who also fell into the sinkhole is receiving medical treatment..

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Health & Science

No Need for Plague Panic? China’s Trending Plague Outbreak

After the Year of the Pig brought swine flue, some fear the Year of the Rat will bring the ‘rat plague.’

Manya Koetse

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For the past nine days, during which three cases of the plague have been reported in China, the deadly bubonic plague has become a hot topic on Chinese social media.

The topic first made headlines on November 12, when Chinese state media announced that two people, a husband and wife from Inner Mongolia, were transported to Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital for treatment after being diagnosed with the pneumonic plague.

The couple reportedly got sick after eating raw marmot kidney.

A 55-year old hunter from the same region, the Inner Mongolian Xilingol League, was later also diagnosed with bubonic plague after eating wild rabbit meat.

The bubonic plague, also called the ‘Black Death,’ is an infectious disease that is known to have caused one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, killing millions of people in 14th century Europe.

News of the three cases of bubonic plague reminded many of the 2003 SARS panic; an outbreak of SARS in southern China caused over 8000 cases that year.

The World Health Organisation criticized China at the time for covering up the scale of the problem, with officials conceding in the Spring of 2003 that China’s SARs problem was “nearly 10 times worse than had been admitted.”

Current online reports on the bubonic plague in China stress that there is no reason for panic, with a hospital spokesperson confirming that the situation is “under control.”

42 people who are known to have come into contact with the Chinese patients have all been quarantined and were not found to have any symptoms of catching the disease.

Chinese (state) media channels are spreading social media posts this week that mainly emphasize that the plague “can be prevented, controlled, and managed,” and that it can be effectively treated.

“Don’t panic over plague outbreak,” Sina News headlines, with People’s Daily posting on Weibo that, according to the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “there is no need to worry.”

The bubonic plague primarily affects rodents and other animals, with animals – and incidentally humans – usually contracting the infection through insects such as (rat) fleas. This form of plague is highly contagious – can spread through coughing – and could be fatal within days if left untreated (Benedict 1996, 4).

Mammals such as rabbits or marmots, as eaten by the recent Chinese patients, but also rats, squirrels, gerbils, mice, etc., can all harbor the disease.

Although the disease is increasingly rare, and for many is something from the history books, there were still 3248 cases worldwide between 2010 and 2015, leading to 584 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

Although Chinese media stress that there is no need to panic over the recent outbreak of the bubonic plague, many netizens still fear an epidemic, making comments such as: “The Year of the Pig brought the [African] swine fever, now the plague is starting just before the Year of the Rat!” (The word for ‘plague’ in Chinese is 鼠疫 shǔyì, literally meaning ‘rat plague’ or ‘mouse plague’).

Others are asking questions such as: “Do we risk the plague more if we have mice in the house?” and “How can we prevent getting it?”

Meanwhile, according to Jiemian News reports, the area in Inner Mongolia where the patients originally contracted the illness is currently under strict control by the Ministries of Health and Agriculture; some roads are closed off, and there’s temperature screening for those taking public transport.

The area has seen four cases of plague over the past decades, the most recent one before this month being in 2004.

Last news on the current three patients was from last Saturday, when it was reported that at least one of the patients is now in stable condition.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

References

Benedict, Carol Ann. 1996. Bubonic Plague in Nineteenth Plague in Nineteenth Century China. Stanford University Press.

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©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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