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Woman Forced Into Abortion after Boyfriend Cannot Afford 200.000 RMB ‘Bride Price’

When a young man could not afford the ‘bride price’ of 200.000 RMB (30,680 US$) to marry his pregnant girlfriend, the woman was forced into abortion by her father. The unfortunate man shared his story online, drawing the attention of Chinese media and Weibo netizens.

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When a young man could not afford the ‘bride price’ of 200.000 RMB (30,680 US$) to marry his pregnant girlfriend, the woman was forced into abortion by her father. The unfortunate man shared his story online, drawing the attention of Chinese media and Weibo netizens.

A netizen from Zhuhai, Guangdong province, recently shared on an online forum that his pregnant girlfriend (originally from Jiangxi province) was taken to the hospital by her father for an abortion after he was not able to come up with the 200.000 RMB (30,680 US$) ‘bride price’.

A ‘bride price’ is an amount of money or goods paid by the groom’s family to the bride’s family upon marriage, and is a long-standing custom in China since the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BCE). In order to pay for the ‘bride price’, families are known to save up money for a long time, or even to take out loans for it (Jiang & Sanchez-Barricarte 2012, 2). According to some scholars, the money mostly is used to finance the new family life of the bride and groom nowadays (2012, 5).

The person who shared his story online, nicknamed ‘Cockroach Is Not a Cockroach’, said that he was happy when he discovered his girlfriend was pregnant last December. The young couple planned to tell their parents and get married right away. But the girl’s father insisted that marriage could only take place if the man would first offer a monetary gift of 200.000 RMB. The young man, who could not afford such an amount, offered the father to first pay him 50.000 (7670 US$) and then pay off the rest of the amount within two years, but the father refused. Even the man’s highest offer of 120.000 RMB (18,400 US$) was allegedly declined. The next day, he says, the young woman was taken to the hospital by her father for an abortion.

‘Cockroach Is not A Cockroach’ wondered if this issue was about paying a ‘bride price’ or if it was more like the father was actually selling his own daughter.

A journalist from Yangcheng Evening News investigated the story, reporting that the average ‘bride price’ in Guangdong’s Zhuhai city varies between 30.000-60.000 RMB (4600 US$-9200 US$), but that house ownership generally is the most important prerequisite for marriage. Locals said that money was actually not most important, and that family background and the man’s character also played a major role when their daughters get married.

featwhatsonweiboThe story made the front page in the Yangcheng Evening News

The ‘bride price’ phenomenon in contemporary Chinese society is closely related to the surplus of men. It is expected that one in five eligible men will not be able to find a bride in 2020. Because of the (statistical) difficulties of finding a partner, Chinese men are willing to pay increasingly higher amounts of money for their bride – a trend that has been continuing since the 1980s (Jiang & Sanchez-Barricarte 2012, 2).

In the meantime, the topic has become a hot issue on Sina Weibo, where many netizens seem to agree with the father: “The boy’s family has no resources, and the father raised his daughter like a princess. If the man cannot even give 200.000, then why would the dad give his daughter away?”

“Everyone wants to have a grandchild, the father surely had his reasons to do what he did,” another netizen comments. “The point is not the 200.000, the point is that the dad knew this man would not make his daughter happy.”

“I spoke with some friends from Jiangxi about this the other day, and the bride price indeed is high. A friend of theirs asked 560.000 (85.905 US$) as a bride price. But after the wedding, she took the money back with her to her husband’s home. The money is actually meant to make sure the daughter will be treated well” – says one popular comment.

Many netizens also write that the couple was stupid to get pregnant before getting married: “I thought about this, and I think the man has no responsibility, and the girl has no brains. Still, the dad should not force her into abortion. He should’ve let them stay together. If they’re together, they won’t be able to bring disaster to other people,” one Weibo user says.

“I personally think your daughter is certainly worth 200.000, but here’s the problem; even if he gives you 200.000, doesn’t mean they’ll be happy together. What matters most is happiness – not money”, one netizen concludes.

– By Manya Koetse

References

Jiang, Quanbao and Jesus Sanchez-Barricarte. 2012. “Bride Price in China: the obstacle to ‘Bare Branches’ seeking marriage.” The History of the Family 17 (1): 2-15.

Image: news.iqilu.com

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Memes & Viral

Prohibited to Promote Top Students, Chinese Schools Are Praising their Excellent ‘Fruit’ Instead

Who knew Chinese schools were so good at harvesting fruit?

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It is that time of the year again: China’s gaokao results are in. Chinese schools that are proud of their top-scoring students would like to scream it from the rooftops, but they are banned from doing so. So they are now posting about their very successful fruit production instead.

This week, the scores came out for China’s gaokao (高考), the National Higher Education Entrance Examinations that took place earlier this months.

The exams are a prerequisite for entering China’s higher education institutions and are taken by students in their last year of senior high school. Scoring high grades for this exam can give high school students access to a better college, which enlarges their chances of obtaining a good job after graduation.

Those who succeed in becoming top scorers in their field and area are known as the gāokǎo zhuàngyuán (高考状元, ‘gaokao champions’). Gaokao champions are usually widely praised, not just by families and friends, but also by their hometowns and schools for which the top-scoring students are their pride and unique selling point.

But since 2018, as explained in this article, it is prohibited for Chinese media and schools to give publicity to gaokao top scorers. The Chinese Ministry of Education banned the promotion of top achievers in line with Xi Jinping Thought, emphasizing the value of equality and sociability instead.

This year, local authorities again reiterated the message that in order to set the right example and “establish the correct orientation of education,” the hyping up of school exam results and publishing top score rankings are strictly prohibited.

Because of the Ministry of Education guidelines, schools can not openly flaunt the successes of their top scorers, but some have found creative ways to do so anyway.

“Of a batch of 1320 ripe mango’s, there are over hundred weighing more than 600 grams,” one school in Guangxi’s Nanning wrote. The ‘weight’ refers to the score, with 600 being a very high score (the maximum score is usually 750, depending on the field and area). “”[We] picked a mango weighing as much as 696 grams, the king of Qinzhou fruit. Two fruit dealers in the capital have already heard of it and are eager to take it.”

Besides mango’s, there were also other schools mentioning their successful production of ‘plums or peaches.’

One blog by Jiangchacha (姜茶茶) listed various examples of schools boasting about their ‘fruit harvest’ in social media posts.

The blog explained that some schools in Guangxi used the mango metaphor because Guangxi has some of the country’s largest mango-producing regions. Meanwhile, the word for ‘peaches and plums’ in Chinese (桃李) also refers to one’s pupils or disciples.

Another school’s post said: “It is harvest season (..), and the campus is fragrant with peaches and plums, and fruitful results!”, adding that “a total of 2400 high quality peaches and plums have been harvested, and over 93% are of high quality!”

There was also one school that mentioned other schools were below them in scores, writing that its “excellence rate” was “clearly ahead of the three other big gardens on the east coast.”

“Our king peach weighs no less than 689 grams,” another school announced. There were also schools that did not discuss fruit but were making references to fish, trees, and high-speed trains instead.

The issue of schools reporting their ‘harvest’ became a trending topic on Weibo, where some found it very funny. But others also voiced criticism that schools cannot publish about some of their students being gāokǎo zhuàngyuán, top scorers.

“There is nothing to hide, the exam scores are the result of hard work by both the teachers and students,” one popular comment said, with others replying: “Why wouldn’t you announce the scores? It might inspire other students!”

“This entire guideline is just nonsense,” another typical comment said.

Meanwhile, some netizens suggested that Sichuan schools could use pandas as a metaphor for their top scorers, while Chongqing could use chili peppers next year, with others suggesting other types of fruit that could be used in these ‘covered-up’ gaokao score publications. It’s bound to be another fruitful year in 2023.

Want to read more about gaokao? Check out more related articles here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

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Photo by Bangyu Wang on Unsplash

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China and Covid19

Confusion over Official Media Report on China’s “Next Five Years” of Zero Covid Policy

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‘The next five years’: four words that flooded Chinese social media today and caused commotion among netizens who interpreted this as written proof that China’s current Covid strategy would continue for at least five more years. But the Beijing Daily editor-in-chief has since responded to the issue, blaming reporters for getting it all mixed up.

On June 27th, after the start of the 13th Beijing Municipal Party Congress, Chinese state media outlet Beijing Daily (北京日报) published an online news article about a report delivered by Beijing’s Party chief Cai Qi (蔡奇).

The article zoomed in on what the report said about Beijing’s ongoing efforts in light of China’s zero-Covid policy, and introduced Beijing’s epidemic prevention strategy as relating to “the coming five years” (“未来五年”).

Those four words then flooded social media and caused commotion among netizens who interpreted this as a sign that China’s current Covid strategy would continue at least five more years. Many people wrote that the idea of living with the current measures for so many years shocked and scared them.

Soon after, the article suddenly changed, and the controversial “coming five years” was left out, which also led to speculation.

Beijing Times editor-in-chief Zhao Jingyun (赵靖云) then clarified the situation in a social media post, claiming that it was basically an error made due to the carelessness of reporters who already filled in information before actually receiving the report:

I can explain this with some authority: the four-word phrase “the next five years” was indeed not included in the report, but was added by our reporter[s] by mistake. Why did they add this by mistake? It’s funny, because in order to win some time, they dismantled the report’s key points and made a template in advance that “in the next five years” such and such will be done, putting it in paragraph by paragraph, and also putting in “insist on normalized epidemic prevention and control” without even thinking about it. This is indeed an operational error at the media level, and if you say that our people lack professionalism, I get it, but I just hope that people will stop magnifying this mistake by passing on the wrong information.”

Global Times commentator Hu Xijin (@胡锡进), who used to be the editor-in-chief and party secretary of the state media outlet, also weighed in on the incident in a social media post on Monday. He started his post by saying that the reporter who initially made the phrase ‘next five year’ go viral had a “lack of professionalism” which caused the overall misunderstanding.

Hu also added a photo of the relevant page within the original report that was delivered at the Congress, showing that the phrase ‘the coming five years’ was indeed not written before the segment on China’s battle against Covid, which detailed Beijing’s commitment to its strict epidemic prevention and control measures.

But Hu also added some nuance to the confusion and how it came about. The original report indeed generally focuses on Beijing developments of the past five years and the next five years, but adding the “in the next five years” phrase right before the segment was a confusing emphasis only added by the reporter, changing the meaning of the text.

Hu noted that the right way to interpret the report’s segment about China’s Covid battle is that it clarifies that the battle against the virus is not over and that China will continue to fight Covid – but that does not mean that Beijing will stick to its current zero Covid policy for the next five years to come, including its local lockdowns and restrictions on movement.

Hu Xijin wrote:

I really do not believe that the city of Beijing would allow the situation as it has been for the past two months or so go on for another five years. That would be unbearable for the people of Beijing, it would be too much for the city’s economy, and it would have a negative impact on the whole country. So it’s unlikely that Beijing would come up with such a negative plan now, and I’m convinced that those in charge of managing the city will plan and strive to achieve a more morale-boosting five years ahead.”

After the apparent error was set straight, netizens reflected on the online panic and confusion that had erupted over just four words. Some said that the general panic showed how sensitive and nervous people had become in times of Covid. Others were certain that the term “next five years” would be banned from Weibo. Many just said that they still needed time to recover from the shock they felt.

“The peoples’ reactions today really show how fed up everyone is with the ‘disease prevention’ – if you want to know what the people think, this is what they think,” one Weibo user from Beijing wrote.

To read more about Covid-19 in China, check our articles here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

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.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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