First School Lesson: Patriotic Essays

This will be mandatory for the curricula both in public and private schools this month. The kids may show their love for the motherland by forming a Kumbaya-chicken-shape in the schoolyard, or by watching television at home to be prepared for the next lesson in school. All middle and primary school students are invited by the education ministry to watch a CCTV special with major-general Peng Liyuan, vice president Xi Jinping‘s wife, undressing singing live in front of the camera, and with Yang Liwei in a yet-to-be-specified function, plus other patriotic gigs.

Afterwards, these gigatons of patriotism will culminate in some 160 million essays: all school children will have to write about the television program, according to the BBC.

The JR Intelligence Unit will try to lay its hands on all of these treasuries, mark them, and it may choose some of the best for publication on this beautiful blog. Stay tuned.

9 Responses to “First School Lesson: Patriotic Essays”

  1. Sorry about long time no coming here. Your blog is behind the GFW though.

    The’s item identifies my home province Heilongjiang as a North China one. That’s wrong. We’re a North Eastern province. The writer or translator must have done a bad job in Chinese geography in school.

    China is officially and historically divided into:

    North China: Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, and Inner Mongolia
    East China: …
    Central and South China:…

    Northeast: Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning
    Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan

    To clear confusion, the first three China regions are named basing on China proper, a region centered around Henan Province and the China in North China, etc. is different from the China most people know of today (i.e. the modern state).

    For young translators, 中国北方 is not 华北. So, northern China is not North China.


    JR is watching Chinese media closer than me or in areas different from me.


  2. Welcome back! The firewall is clearly noticeable here, but it doesn’t seem to work 100%. Clicking numbers from China seem to grow, too, even if only very slowly. Might also be a misinterpretation by clustrmaps, though.

    My impression is that the Northeast is always referred to as dongbei in Chinese-language media, so I guess the translator or editor is aware of it and just thought that simply “North”, in terms of latitude and for foreign readers, would be good enough.

    When listening to China Radio International in English, I get a similar feeling. The station mainly seems to emulate life in China, rather than reflecting it. While that may be true for any international broadcaster (and formats and messages are always influenced by the working language), it strikes me how CNN CRI is (in style, that is).

    It was different twenty or thirty years ago. “Authentic” wouldn’t be the word of choice for the programs back then either, but they were certainly more similar to domestic media, and sort of fascinating. But granted, I remember that some of us found the programs stiff or boring.

    Which Chinese media are you watching?


  3. Yes, you’re right. Northeast (Dongbei) always means the three provinces. But, actual situations are more complex. The eastern section of Inner Mongolia used to be part of Dongbei. And the people there share lots of things with the people in today’s official Dongbei. For example, one of my colleagues is from there and we found that we speak the same dialect, played the same games, cracked the same jokes, etc. All in all, he is no less Dongbeiistic than me. People like my colleagues often identify themselves as Dongbeiren.

    Now a little history. Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region predates the People’s Republic. Maybe for traditional and historical reasons, Mongolians, as far as I know, are “treated” better than other minorities and large areas of Dongbei (today’s eastern section of Inner Mongolia) were given to the then new Inner Mongolia A.R. Mongolians in the Chinese Communist Party contributed a great deal to establishing Communist dominance in northern China. You can say the given land was rewards for their loyalty to the CCP. That’s also the case with the ruling Manchus during the Qing dynasty. They maintained special ties with Mongolians and ensured their loyalty via marriage and religion.

    I’m not so sure of the translator’s or the editor’s awareness of the difference between “North China” and “northern China”. They even might not know where Huabei is (I’m not joking!). I know many Chinese people who know Huabei and Zhongguo Beifang are different. When asked how they are different, they are just at a loss. What I am sure of is Huabei is officially translated as North China. But the lines that separate the northern and southern China regions can be economic, geographic, climatic, linguistic and historical. Maybe, they depend on what is in question.

    Some of Chinese journalists are disappointing with their professionalism. I’ve noticed that they do not distinguish between percentage and percentage points, viruses and bacteria, do not bother about mathematic questions (what “times” and “folds” mean, what times bigger and XX % smaller means). When I came across their botched calculations, I tried to understand the “spirit” of their discourse. When even that failed, it’s my turn not to bother about what they might mean. Another phenomenon in Chinese publications. When English words and Chinese characters are printed together, as is the case of some upmarket periodicals where English words or sentences are treated as decorations, the odd is that more than 95% English texts are wrong: wrongly spelled, capitalized, without spaces, etc. Not to mention Chinese English. The editors don’t bother about consulting someone who can proofread their products.

    I always think that maybe it’s because China is expanding everywhere too fast and no one want to or afford the time and money to step back and look what they are doing. This goes for other issues, too. Pollution, jerry-built apartment blocks, poisonous food, garbage imports, unsafe cars, etc. I’ve promised myself that my first and last cars will not be China-made. If I cannot afford it, I won’t buy one. People sitting in China-made cars (including foreign brands made by joint ventures) are canned meat. When serious enough accidents happen, they have a very slim chance to survive. I go by bus and subway and occasionally taxi. Buses are big enough to be safer than cars; and when I have to go by taxi, I secretly pray no accidents will happen to it. I don’t know what the English word is for people like me. In Chinese, it’s xi ming (life-treasuring), and derogatory. I even avoid going by plane. So far, I’ve never been on a plane trip. I prefer train for long journeys.

    As for Chinese TV media, I normally only watch TV when I eat at home and when I do watch it, I like cartoons. The Internet is my main source of information. My Chinese news sites include,,,, and


  4. JR, you can see here how some people with CCTV’s financial channel work out comparisons of oil prices.

    I said I was not joking.


  5. Isn’t it good that business these days is mainly psychology? Just imagine a world where those smart alecs needed to crunch numbers! :))


  6. I don’t even have television. The programs here aren’t worth anyone’s time (and fees). I occasionally watch televised sports with friends, but that’s it. My main source of info is radio, and the internet. And while I think the BBC is a great source of information, this one – from a BBC correspondent in China – looks pretty poor to me. Not sure if he reported so little, or if the editors cut it short. RTI had more information on offer, on the same day.



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