|Beijing Scene, Volume 5, Issue 6, April 23 - 29|
|Spoiled Rotten in the PRC|
One of Chinaís greatest strengths in combating enemy invaders this
century has been its seemingly unlimited population. It was Mao Zhu
Xi (Chairman Mao) who tichang (advocated; encouraged) Chinese people
to get busy having as many children as they could in preparation for
Sheer numbers of human beings would supplant pricey and precious weapons
and ammunition. By the Chairmanís decree, any woman who gave birth to
lots of children was christened a Guangrong Mama (Glorious or Honored
Mother). The more puppies she could squeeze out, the more "honorable"
Certain chou laojiu (stinking intellectuals) allege that Mao was somehow
single-handedly responsible for Chinaís teeny-weeny renkou (population)
wenti (problem). Not in the literal sense of course, but rather as a
result of his political policies.
In the 1980s, Chinaís leaders undertook draconian measures to correct
the problem of overpopulation by initiating jihua shengyu (planned childbirth),
or Chinaís controversial One-Child Policy. Now that Chinese families
are only allowed to have one child, you can bet your IUD they treat
the baobei geda (lit. "precious lump" or "pimple") like a little king
or queen. Especially if the kid happens to be a boy, in which case he
is the last hope the parents have for carrying on the family line.
Hence, one of the consequences of the One-Child Policy (besides an
alarming imbalance in the numbers of male and female children) has been
the emergence of the xiao huangdi ("Little Emperor") phenomenon.
The term xiao huangdi didnít come into wide use in China until the
1990s. Today it is commonly used to refer to Chinese kids who are zai
tangshui li zhangdade ("raised on sugar water") and enjoy all the privileges
that come with being du shengzi (only children). These little tykes
have been so jiaoguan (pampered) and chonghuai (spoiled) by their parents
that they run the risk of being incapable of doing anything for themselves.
Thereís no doubt that jingji gaige kaifang (Reform & Opening) has
exacerbated the Little Emperor phenomenon. When the Comrade was a tyke,
we were so poor that the only reason we got married was for the rice.
And we were so skinny that we used to tie knots in our legs to make
knees. But Chinese families have more money now than ever before, and
are able to make sure that their kids are yingyang guosheng (over-nutrified).
Hence the growing numbers of obese Chinese kids with more chins than
Chinatown. Parents take great pains to help their children break through
genetic constraints and pork up to immense proportions, making them
a living testament to their familyís affluence.
Ample nutrition means that Chinese kids are growing up taller and
stronger than ever before. It also means that more and more Chinese
kids, like their Western counterparts, are xingzaoshu (early-bloomers).
When the Comrade was a kid we were told that babies came from their
parentsí yewo (armpits). Nowadays xing jiaoyu (sex education) is taught
in schools, and with the advent of meiti (television and other media),
Chinese kids know exactly where babies come from and how.
Chinese parents shebude (canít stand the thought of) letting their
kids leave their care to go to school every day. How can they be sure
that their Little Emperor is going to get enough attention from the
teacher in a class of 30 or 40 other brats? Thatís why many Chinese
parents practice the ancient Chinese custom of pai ma pi (lit. "patting
the horseís rump", or flattery) and songli la guanxi (giving gifts to
win favor). Families shower their kidsí teachers with excessive flattery
and gifts to insure that their child gets the special treatment he or
she has come to demand and expect.
Little Emperors have learned from their parents the fine art of zhuiqiu
gaodang xiaofei (pursuing expensive consumer lifestyles). Once they
get to school they engage in panbi feng (juvenile competition to prove
whose family is richer). Since Chinese students all wear the same xiaofu
(school uniforms), they canít flaunt expensive name-brand clothes at
each other. The most effective way to prove whose family has the most
money is to compare whatís in their schoolbags. Typical schoolbag items
include suishen ting (walkman), pocket computers, CD players, and dianzi
youxi (video games).
In closing, the Comrade would like to point out that you donít have to be a Little Emperor to youqiu biying (get whatever you want) and youhu biying (have others at your beck and call). Just ask any spoiled expat!