Soon after US Scientist Eric Betzig won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry (2014), Bangbu No. 1 Secondary School in Anhui Province, China celebrated the event and posted a conspicuous announcement of congratulation on its son-in-law winning the Nobel Prize.
How can a school have a son-in-law? That is a bizarre question.
How can a Chinese secondary school have an American son-in-law? That is an even more bizarre question. Everybody was puzzled.
It turned out that Betzig’s wife is a graduate of that school, so the school believes it is justified to claim that Betzig is the school’s son-in-law.
Soon after, many web users sneered at the school on the Internet for its brazen-faced claim of kinship for fame, as the school has nothing to do with Betzig winning the prize..
The person responsible at the school argued that Mrs. Betzig was also brilliant, having won a top scholarship at the China University of Technology, and having made quite a few scientific research achievements, though not as well-known as her husband. The congratulation announcement was posted to encourage students to learn from Mrs. Betzig.
However, the school withdrew the announcement soon afterwards.
In fact, such malpractice of having arbitrary connections is quite common in China from long ago. It may even be regarded as a Chinese tradition.
In the section “Corruption and Mao’s Influence,” Chapter 25 (Chapter 17 in the first edition) of the expanded 2nd edition of my book Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements, I said, “In China, it is very difficult for an official to be really independent. As soon as one becomes an official, one is regarded by his relatives and friends as their asset. They usually boast their connection with the official sometimes merely out of pride but often to tell other people that the connection may be utilised for their benefit.
“For example, when a judge deals with a case involving lots of economic interests, interested parties will try every means to influence his decision through his friends, relatives, other officials and friends and relatives of his friends and relatives and other officials. The temptation of corruption is very great. That was why official corruption was a major cause for the collapse of quite a few dynasties in Chinese history, and especially why the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) defeated the Kuomintang. Today, the threat of official corruption is very serious and concerns the CCP’s survival.”
Since connections are so important, what connections can one have in official circles when he becomes an official. He usually has no friends or relatives in the circles. In the Qing Dynasty a century ago, there was a way as soon as one entered the circles.
When an official had committed a mistake, quite a few officials of various ages ranging from 20 to 60 begged for leniency for him. They did so as they were all of the same age as the official. How can people of different ages from 20 to 60 be of the same age?
They were of the same age because they all passed the civil service examination in the same year. The age here means their official age. The official had the “same-age” connections with quite a few other officials as soon as he passed the examination.
The feudal civil service examination system has long been abolished, but connections remain vital and there are other ways to establish connections. You can find the major ones in my book. Of course, there are quite a few other ways, which I will describe later in other posts if readers are interested.
China is a large country with a very long history quite different from the West. There are many things that Western people, even China experts, find bizarre.Source: Singtao Daily “Anhui Secondary School congratulate its ‘son-in-law” for winning Nobel Prize” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese) Source: Chan Kai Yee Tiananmen’s Tremendous Achievements
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