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WeChat Essay: “The RYB Kindergarten ‘Piston Action’ Child Abuse Case” (Translation)

“Dear readers, I really cannot write about the RYB Education kindergarten.“

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It is not often that a case causes so much online commotion in China as the recent exposure of alleged child abuse at the international RYB Education kindergarten in Beijing. Amid a flood of essays, posts, and images, here is a letter of one author representing the feelings of a larger public.

The RYB kindergarten abuse case has sparked rage and anger all across China. While police and local authorities are investigating the matter, netizens express their shock over the kindergarten’s intolerable situations revealed in several interviews and videos with parents.

Chinese social media platforms are flooding with essays, articles, posts, and images relating to this case.

Because the heated discussions have been met with wide online censorship, many netizens avoid using ‘RYB Education’ (the RYB abbreviation stands for Red Yellow Blue), and have started referring to the kindergarten as ‘The Three Colours’ (#三种颜色#).

Many Chinese netizens are also posting images of these ‘three colours’ in a circle; the core of the circle forming a black dot (‘black’ in Chinese also meaning ‘secretive’ or ‘illegal’). Some have started using this image as their profile picture on Weibo.

One essay that made its rounds on WeChat on November 24 addresses the collective indignation of many Chinese netizens – not just over the case itself, but also over the fact that interviews and articles on the topic have been pulled offline.

Here is a partial translation of this article*:


2017-11-24 Mo Yan

Yesterday, it was Thanksgiving Day in the United States. In our country many people also celebrated it. The big news that came out during Thanksgiving was the serious child abuse case at the RYB Kindergarten in Beijing’s Chaoyang District, in Xintiandi. This area is not far from my home in Beijing. We saw how the building was erected, and how they already started selling stocks at 7000 yuan [1060$] some ten years ago. The fact we had an international kindergarten stationed [there] was something that was promoted.

I could have never imagined how rotten this international kindergarten actually is – giving children medicine, injections, organizing naked health checks for the children, and making them stand and watch some “piston action” (damn, I can’t even name the dirty word here). This company was listed in North America; it was praised as “the New Oriental Kindergarten” by Xu Xiaoping; it was launched as an educational flower to the motherland!

01

Someone wrote an article on Douban [online platform], titled “Out Of All Child Abuse Cases, I Dread the One Where Parent’s Interviews are Deleted the Most.” In this article, the author writes:

“I would like to ask one question. Why would the videos of interviews with the victims’ parents be deleted, and why is it not allowed at all to discuss this matter on Zhihu [online discussion forum]? (…)

This is what I also want to ask. The author is a dinky, he has no relations whatsoever to the kindergarten. My child is all grown up now, the kindergarten he went to was very good. The abuse of children at a kindergarten also has nothing to do with me. However, there is that poem at the New England Holocaust Memorial I sympathize with.

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Social justice needs to be protected by everyone. Anyone who stays indifferent because something is not a matter of concern to oneself is taking the side of the evildoer.

02

I did find the two interviews that were deleted online. One interview is that with a father, with a length of 4:50; the other is with a mother, with a length of 16:25.

In the interview with the father, he confirmed: 1. that some young kids were already taken to the hospital for medical check-ups and that they were diagnosed with anal fissures. They could not say what caused this. 2. that three small children were punished by standing still naked – two girls and one boy.

The mother who was interviewed was one of those three children who was stripped naked. It was also her child who was able to tell her this in a clear and complete way, exposing the incident.

It took place about two weeks ago. The child came home crying and said she was made to stand still as punishment. There was an ‘uncle’ who had threatened them: ‘If you do not obey, we’ll cut off your head and throw it in the bin.’ At that time, the child did not say anything about being undressed, and the mother did not pay much attention to the ‘uncle.’ The next day, the mom went to the headmaster, just hoping that the teachers would not punish nor threat the children. The headmaster flatly denied it, refusing to let the parent see video surveillance, and blamed it on the child’s wild imagination.

Then, a week ago, the child repeatedly talked about receiving injections. Perhaps it was because she’d been injected a few days in a row, that the child said: “Again, I am not sick, then why would they give me an injection?”

The mother asked the kindergarten about it, but they said there had been no injections. She asked her child again, and she said there was a physical examination. That there was a ‘grandpa doctor’ wearing clothes (..) and a naked ‘uncle doctor,’ and that the children who were picked were brought into a room by the teacher and were also naked while getting a health check.

Those children and the other children witnessed how the ‘uncle doctor’ did ‘piston action’ with a child. Perhaps the reason why she [the daughter] was not assaulted was because she struggled when they wanted to undress her, crying “don’t take off my clothes!”

The interviewed mother said: perhaps she was causing too much ruckus, and they lost their interest. The child later recalled (..) that it was the “mummy of the headmaster” who dressed the children.

There are no male teachers in the kindergarten. Then who are ‘uncle doctor’ and ‘grandpa doctor’?

03

That the Ctrip kindergarten articles were deleted, is probably due to the Shanghai Women’s Federation. That news about the Daxing fire news was deleted, is probably because of its large number of casualties. So what is the reason that news about the RYB Education case is being deleted?

(..)

If the little girl’s memories are completely true, the problem at hand is very grave. Then it would not be an individual action by a bad teacher – it would be an organized crime. Were those adult men free to participate in the “piston action” during those naked ‘health checkups’? If not, could we interpret this as some sort of commercial sex trade? And would the children, attending an international kindergarten with monthly fees of more than 5000 yuan [±760$], be their tools for making a profit?

(..)

04

Yesterday when I first started to see the articles on WeChat, some readers asked me to write [about this]. (..) This morning, I read a lot of media reports, including those from The Paper, Xinhua News, and other big media, and it made me really depressed. So I’ll write this for you:

“Dear readers, I really cannot write about the RYB Education kindergarten. First, there was Shanghai, now there’s Beijing. There are the persons in charge, and the headmaster, there are kindergarten teachers, (..), and now something even bigger has been exposed. The patterns of child abuse keep changing, and if we haven’t reached rock bottom then we’ll fall through the earth straight into hell.

So many comments have been written, it hurts. Every time we’re shocked, another incident blows up again. In the interview video, it was suggested that the headmaster couple had set up a unit for sexual assault (..) – of course, this needs to be determined by the relevant justice departments.

Perhaps it’s like ants trying to shake a tree, or like a cup of water on firewood, but I still want to call on the acceleration of legislation and the prohibition of child abuse. And to call for more punishment for sexual assault, and a reinstatement of the death penalty for criminals under these serious circumstances.

At the end of every sleepless night, there is always the next dawn. I can only support the children and their parents with my tears. Please forgive, because I really can not write.”

However, these unsophistication expressions and crude emotions were deleted within a second. I rewrote them from my memory. I re-wrote it three times in a row, and it was deleted three times in a row. Now, I cry as I watch the ending of the interview videos, and I also finish writing this article. As for the fate of this article, there’s no way of knowing.

After the parents jointly made their report to the police, the kindergarten (..) continued their classes and even organized a Thanksgiving celebration.

The Ministry of Education has already deployed and started a special investigation (..). The government of Chaoyang District in Beijing said that “if this case is found to be true, it will not be tolerated in any way.” Hopefully, the Central Discipline Inspection Commission can see this letter and do all they can to counter the toxic forces who endanger the physical and mental health of young children.”


 

Also read:
UPDATE: Press Release November 28

By Manya Koetse
@manyapan

* To read the Chinese: (致信中纪委:红黄蓝幼儿园性“活塞运动”虐童事件,什么人的罪恶试图掩盖) [Letter to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection: The RYB Kindergarten ‘Piston Action’ Child Abuse Case – Whose Crimes Are Being Concealed?], published on the xiaofuwang07 (零钱袋财经资讯) Wechat Channel.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. M

    November 25, 2017 at 9:43 am

    Seems like the weixin link is broken, ah you know why..

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China Digital

Key Players, Digital Trends & Deep Dives: China Internet Report 2021

SCMP just launched its latest China Internet Report. (And What’s on Weibo readers can get a 30% discount on the Pro Edition!)

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As China’s tech sector has been facing an ongoing crackdown by Beijing regulations, a lot has been changing in the country’s digital environment over the past year. The new China Internet Report 2021 by SCMP gives an overview of the latest trends and developments.

When it comes to China’s online landscape, nothing ever stays the same. Over the past year, political, economic, and social developments and measures have once again changed the Chinese digital environment.

Giving a comprehensive overview of the key leaders and major trends dominating the Chinese online field, South China Morning Post (SCMP) issued its fourth annual China Internet Report.

China’s internet population has now risen to 989 million – last year’s report indicated an internet population of 904 million. By now, there are 853 million mobile payment users, which indicates that over 86% of the entire mobile internet population uses mobile as a way to pay.

As China’s internet population is still growing, and new online startups are still popping up every day, there have been tightening regulations on multiple fronts.

As laid out in SCMP’s report, regulations mainly focus on the four areas of antitrust, finance, cybersecurity, and data privacy. Regulatory actions targeting the monopolistic behaviours of China’s biggest internet companies are still ongoing, and the new Data Security Law came into effect on September 1st of this year.

While Chinese tech companies are seeing increased scrutiny at home, they have also been facing intensifying geopolitical tensions between China and other countries. Over the past year, the various probes and shutdowns into Chinese companies by countries such as the US and India have meant a serious blow to the market share of Chinese apps.

Meanwhile, the SCMP report highlights the trend of various older and newer Chinese (e-commerce) apps “downplaying” their Chinese origins when entering foreign markets. Shein is a good example of this development, but other players including Zaful, Urbanic, and Cider are also experiencing more success outside of China while not explicitly marketing themselves as Chinese e-commerce apps.

Another noteworthy trend explained in the new report is how China’s shifting demographics are creating new niche segments to compete over. The COVID-19 crisis is partially a reason why China has seen an increase in senior internet users, with an increasing number of online products and content catering to the elderly.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) even issued special guidelines earlier this year for web pages and mobile apps to carry out so-called “elderly friendliness modifications.” Since this user group is still expected to see significant growth, the “silver economy” is an area that will only become more important in the years to come.

To check out all the main trends for 2021, China’s latest internet statistics, its top tech competitors, internet companies, and more, here’s a link to the free report.

The free report is 55 pages long and gives an overview of China’s latest internet numbers and players, covers the top cross-sector trends for 2021, including the tightening regulations and the bumpy road ahead for China’s tech IPOs.

The Pro Edition of China’s Internet Report 2021, also launched by SCMP, is 138 pages long and provides a deep-dive into ten relevant sectors – featuring insightful and useful analysis, data, and case studies relating to China’s e-commerce market, content & media, gaming, blockchain, fintech, online education, healthtech, smart cars, 5G, and Artificial Intelligence.

The China Internet Report Pro Edition is priced at US$400, but the team at SCMP has kindly reached out and made it possible for us to offer a special 30% discount to What’s on Weibo readers.

You’ll get the discount by using the discount code: WHATSONWEIBO30, or by clicking this link that will automatically include your discount code.

By Manya Koetse

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©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 Insight

Goodbye 996? Weibo Discussions on Changes in Overtime Work Culture

Beijing made it clear that working overtime is illegal, but netizens are concerned about the realities of changing working schedules.

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Many people are tired of being forced to log long hours, but are also worried about how a national crackdown on ‘996’ working culture could impact their workload and income.

In late August of 2021, China’s Ministry of Human Resources & Social Security (人社部) and the Supreme People’s Court issued a joint clarification on the country’s legal standards of working hours and overtime pay.

Their message was clear: the practices of ‘996’ (working 9am-9pm, six days per week) and ‘007’ (working 24 hours seven days per week, referring to a flexible working system worse than 996) are illegal, and employers are obliged to obey the national working-time regime.

On Weibo, China’s state broadcaster CCTV published a 10-minute long video illustrating the 10 typical cases of overtime work laid out by the ministry and the top court. The moment was marked as the first time for the state-owned broadcaster to publicly comment on overtime work practices.

The Weibo post pointed out that “striving for success is not a shield companies can use to evade legal responsibilities,” and made it clear that employees have the right to “say no to forced overtime.”

The topics of overtime work and China’s 996 work culture generated many discussions on Weibo, with the hashtag “Ministry of Human Resources & Social Security and the Supreme Court Clarify 996 and 007 Are Illegal” (#人社部最高法明确996和007都违法#) generating over 420 million views on the social media platform.

 
“Without implementation and enforcement, the law is useless”
 

The current labor law in China bars employees from working more than 44 hours a week, and any overtime work must be paid.

Although the 996 practice is technically prohibited by law, many companies still enforce the hours informally.

Many employees revealed online that, although the 996 practice is legally prohibited, they were nevertheless being assigned job tasks that exceeded the prescribed working hours.

“Just finished work,” one Weibo user (@介也没嘛) posted with this picture, showing it’s nearing 11PM.

“I wonder if the workload will decrease after all. If it doesn’t change, it means people will now have to work voluntarily,” one Weibo user commented.

People also indicated that, since the start of the pandemic, remote work has become a new norm. Many companies have moved from office to working at home, making it harder to draw the line between regular working hours and overtime hours.

“What really matters is whether working from home includes overtime hours,” one Weibo user wrote. Many netizens complained that their companies wouldn’t explicitly stipulate a 996 schedule; instead, most of them disguise the overtime hours as ‘voluntary’ work.


Many commenters say it takes more comprehensive legislation and tougher law enforcement to really solve the issue of overtime work.

“These regulations are good, but they are basically impossible to implement. Even if they ban ‘996’ and ‘007’ there is no way to regulate the so-called ‘voluntary work,’” one Weibo user wrote.

Some people said that their companies have various performance assessments and that they feared that refusing to work more hours would make them lose their competitive advantage: “The burn-out (内卷 nèijuǎn, ‘involution’) is severe. It is too difficult for us. I have only one day off during the week and I’m so tired,” one person commented.

 
“We don’t need those who comfortably work 8 hours”
 

China’s 996 work culture has been championed by tech leaders and denounced by workers for years, and it has become an unwritten standard – not just in the tech sector but also in other industries.

While working long hours has been ingrained in Chinese workplace culture since the early days of the country’s internet boom, it later also started to represent ‘a road to success’ for Chinese tech entrepreneurs.

Many Chinese netizens blame Alibaba’s Jack Ma for praising the ‘996’ work system. In 2019, Ma called the 12-hour working day a “huge blessing,” causing much controversy online. During his talk at Kyiv International Economic Forum, Ma said: “(..) ‘996 is the spirit that I encourage Alibaba people to follow. If you want to have a bright future, (..) if you want to be successful, you have to work hard.”

On another occasion, the tech mogul reportedly said: “If you join Alibaba, you should get ready to work 12 hours a day, otherwise why do you come to Alibaba? We don’t need those who comfortably work 8 hours.”

Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba Group described 996 as a ‘blessing’.

However, after the shocking death of one Chinese delivery man working for food delivery platform Ele.me and the widespread discussions about the ‘996 ICU’ project – which called on tech workers to add names and evidence of excessive hours to a ‘blacklist,’ – the 996 work culture has come under increased scrutiny.

Some people argue that the overtime culture is draining employees and creating an unhealthy work-life balance; others argue that they work for themselves and believe that putting in extra hours will eventually translate to individual success.

While economic growth has slowed down during the pandemic, most companies are persisting with long working hours because they are under pressure to achieve results.

According to an online survey conducted by an influential tech blogging account (@IT观察猿), more than one-third of participants claimed to have one day off per week, and more than one quarter claimed they didn’t have any weekend days off.

 
“The workload is the same, but the income has reduced”
 

Starting from August 1st, ByteDance, the Chinese company behind the popular short-form video app TikTok, dropped its ‘big and small week’ (大小周) – a schedule that previously required employees to work six days in a row every other week.

ByteDance is not the only Chinese tech company that has begun to cut back on its long working hours. More and more companies have decided to drop grueling work schedules.

Kuaishou, another Chinese short-form video app company, stopped scheduling weekend work in July. Since early June, Tencent – China’s largest game publisher – has encouraged people to clock out at 6 pm every Wednesday.

Although these changes seem to signal a positive development, there are also many people who do not support the new measures. When Bytedance announced the changes to its working schedule, news came out that one-third of the employees did not support the decision (#字节跳动1/3员工不支持取消周末加班#).

Those relying on overtime pay said abolishing overtime work will cut their take-home pay by around 20%. Indeed, the first pay-out after the new implementation at Bytedance showed an overall drop of 17% in employees’ wages.

“The workload is the same, but the income has reduced,” one Weibo commenter complained.

One trending discussion on Weibo focused on the question “Do companies need to make up for employees’ financial loss after the abolition of weekend work?” Many comments revealed the situation faced by thousands of struggling workers who value free time but value their income more.

Many on Weibo still wonder whether a company that abolishes ‘996’ will come up with an alternative to compensate those employees who will otherwise inevitably lose vital income.

By Yunyi Wang

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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