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 WWIII.

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" she was.

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!


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