Student Learns Mother Died Only After Finishing Gaokao Exam

A Chinese student learns about his mother's death, his family having kept it a secret from him so that he could take the important gaokao Chinese university entrance exam without distractions.

On NetEase:

Student exiting university entrance exam learns mother died 12 days earlier

June 8th, [gaokao university entrance exam] test-takers exiting the examination sites. Shen Fei’s relatives were waiting outside the exits, but the only people not amongst the crowd were his parents. 12 days ago, after Shen Fei’s parents had gone to the school for a meeting/conference for parents of this year’s test-takers, they suffered an unfortunate traffic accident on their way home. His mother died after unsuccessful efforts to save her life at the hospital, while his father to this day is still lying in the intensive care unit. In order to let Shen Fei take the gaokao without distractions, family members, traffic police, and the school collectively organized a lie/deception.

A Chinese student learns about his mother's death, his family having kept it a secret from him so that he could take the important gaokao Chinese university entrance exam without distractions.

Photo is of a school teacher comforting Shen Fei.

A Chinese student learns about his mother's death, his family having kept it a secret from him so that he could take the important gaokao Chinese university entrance exam without distractions.

Upon learning of his mother having passed away, Shen Fei in grief.

A Chinese teenager sees his gravely injured father in the hospital for the first time, his parents' traffic accident having been kept a secret from him so he could take a college entrance exam without distractions.

Shen Fei holding his father’s hand, saying he had done well [on the test].

Shen Fei's family members waiting outside of the school for him to finish taking the important gaokao university entrance examinations.

Afternoon of the 8th, Shen Fei’s maternal aunt waiting outside of the examination site for him to come out.

Shen Fei did not learn about his mother’s death until after first seeing his father.

Comments from NetEase (1 & 2):

xpliang [网易广东省佛山市网友]:

What use is “winning” the gaokao when you’ve “lost” your mother?!

ID不够闪 [网易河北省廊坊市网友]: (responding to above)

Even if he didn’t take the gaokao he still would’ve lost his mother. To learn the truth later is always more difficult than learning the truth at the beginning, that’s just how reality is, but any family would have done it this way, putting the child’s future first. Poor parents.


White-lies are already passe, doesn’t the editor know? All of society is a false facade!

夏小阿碗 [网易江苏省网友]: (responding to above)

I trust this child can understand his family’s white-lie! May he get a good score [on his gaokao college entrance exam]!

夏小阿碗 [网易江苏省网友]:

Sigh, the evil gaokao system! Reading this made me sick!

peixinfushi [网易广东省东莞市网友]:

Even if you do well on the gaokao, you still can’t compete successfully with second generation rich [children of wealthy families], so why bother?

gggsss2010 [网易江苏省南京市网友]:

Is the gaokao really this important? A merciless gaokao, what’s the point?!

起阳 [网易河北省廊坊市网友]:

An inhuman society.

憨豆123 [网易云南省临沧市网友]:

Child, your mother’s spirit in heaven will be happy for you, pull yourself together.


China’s characteristic gaokao~

凡人逍遥子 [网易福建省泉州市网友]:

To lose a father in one’s youth, a wife in one’s middle age, a child in one’s old age, there is nothing more painful than the departing of a loved one, a pain that rends one’s chest!


Is the gaokao more important than everything, more important than the parents who gave you your own life? What have people lost these days?!!!

拆迁队陆政委 [网易福建省泉州市网友]:

What a dysfunctional education system, one that will only produce deformed people!

看领导喝茅台洗桑拿 [网易海南省海口市网友]:

The past few days of the gaokao, I’ve been outside the exam sites taking photos. Why must a single university entrance exam mobilize this many people? Why? Why? If the gaokao were treated as any ordinary test, then there wouldn’t have had to been a parents’ conference, right? Why do schools hold a parents’ conference rather than just a student’s conference? Motherfucking gaokao, go to hell! You bunch of 2B!

拆迁队陆政委 [网易福建省泉州市网友]:

There are many paths in life, the gaokao is but just one of them. To do well [and get into a good university] does not necessarily mean everything will go smoothly in the future. If you don’t do well, there are still other options!! Why make it so morbid/dysfunctional!!!

realgeorge13 [网易陕西省西安市网友]:

A mad system, a mad people.


Sigh, people’s humanity has all been twisted.

夏小阿碗 [网易江苏省网友]:

In the face of anything, we must all make way for and serve the “gaokao“! As if the gaokao is more important than all and everything!

What do you think? Given a similar situation involving something you feel is critical to a child’s future, would you temporarily deceive the child about something as important as a parent’s death?

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  • mr. wiener

    on the exam sofa :(

    • matt

      not the dead mother sofa?

      • red scarf

        Its not a sofa its a settee, you been lied too.

    • XiaoHei

      You guys accuse the Chinese of losing humanity and being cold while you feel nothing about cracking ‘sofa’ jokes when the article is about someone’s death. Bravo!

      • kaka

        ***** wow – self-righteous indignation alert *****

        • anon

          Irony is strong here.

        • Andy

          Come on, be fair, all this 2005 meme sofa shit makes everyone look like the shitbags that the Chinese believe we all are.

          • eddie9684

            come on this is 2012 and theres still sofa bashing idiots? if people want to look stupid let them, one looks more stupid when trying to tell an idiot what’s wrong.

      • Xiongmao

        XiaoHei,, it’s only the usual 3-4 morons who do nothing but sit behind their computers, claim sofa and then crack a stupid joke. The rest of us think it’s distasteful as well.

  • 玛德琳

    It’s just the gaokou system that is twisted here. They had more chances and opportunities.

  • Alan

    In order to let Shen Fei take the gaokao without distractions, family members, traffic police, and the school collectively organized a lie/deception.

    This is just absolutely disgusting and ridiculous and is up there with under age gymnasts, replacing a buck toothed singer with a prettier gal, and having a national day with a nazi germany style military parade.

    He is a boy, not a robot, and deserves the truth, and if he flops his gaokao either way, his choice, I will just sit here and shake my head in contemptuous silence as Elijah says about my posts…..

    • simon

      shit, i guess white lies are now ‘ridiculous’ and frowned upon, and can be readily compared with nazi germany style military parades.

      • bomber

        white lies? His mother died. Not a white lie.

        • anon

          Well, not a white lie in the sense of it being a small lie, but a white lie in the sense of it being for the greater good perhaps.

    • Buffy

      I can’t understand why they don’t just have 3 to 5 sessions a year. But within that constraint, I suppose his family did the right thing by him. God help them!

    • Genxi

      Alan, what happened to his mother has happened. However, the gaokao determines the route for the future of this kid. Next, they are of another culture, a culture that values education. Unlike Westerners, confrontation is the way to go — it’s always for the truth. Perhaps, education is not as important in your culture to understand…

      • tai wai

        However, the gaokao determines the route for the future of this kid.

        That’s the problem.

        Perhaps, education is not as important in your culture to understand…

        Or perhaps we understand that idea of having one rote-memorization based test determine someone’s entire future is just insane.

        • Jess Cruz

          @Tai Wai. Exactly. The education in China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan come down to two things: Rote-Memorization and Standardized Testing. That’s it.

          • HeSaidSheSaid

            I have been told by students here that even questions throughout high school that were worded: ‘What do YOU THINK about such and such’ have standardized answers. Yes, what you think is wrong/inconsequential.

          • mr. wiener

            My favorite still has to be the “fashion” question for a Taiwanese motorcycle licence:
            “When riding a motor cycle in Taiwan should you wear:
            A. Safety clothing.
            B. Brightly colored clothing.
            C. Clothing pleasing to the eye of fellow motorists.”
            Feel free to submit your guesses……

      • Alan

        Perhaps, education is not as important in your culture to understand…

        Perhaps, but exams are not the be all and end all.

        Lying is never acceptable, and this was just collusion and cover up…..

        • ric

          you are getting off topic alan

      • curl of the burl

        A culture that seems to covet western education far more than their own.

        As a teacher who taught in China for ten years and western countries for a number of years, if you talk to the parents of the students in China, most of them hate the education system more than we do. Most of the other teachers detest it. They know how lacking it is more than anyone.

        There are the same attitudes in western countries but the syllabus is pretty different from country to country, school to school, subject to subject, teacher to teacher. And if the parents kick up a stink enough, it will be changed. And it is. It’s always changing and being debated.

        Honest questions;

        If education is so important, why hasn’t it been changed (or ‘developed’) like the urban infrastructure has by now? If you can send a man into space and hold, and win, the Olympic games so successfully, why can’t this be reformed?

        Why did 70% of my students (and 90% of parents) say they wanted study abroad?

        Why are there 40,000 Chinese students at any point in time in major American cities (a fair percentage of which is working illegally in various part time occupations > Where’s Yang Rui? ;)) ?

        • Foreign Devil

          I asked that so many times too. The Chinese mostly all admit the system is inferior. .yet they don’t change a thing. Same thing with their vacation system. . causes everyone huge travel headaches. .yet nothing is changed. Some things about Chinese society we can never understand. . because they defy all logic.

        • Locke

          The way I see it, this is just the result of another pissing contest. All governments are vulnerable to the power of global opinion/criticism, because of the tremendous effects it can have on various economic processes.

          China is especially eager to show the world their capabilities (especially through their students’ standardized test performance), but at what price?

          Personally, I’m just amazed at the scale of this coordinated operation of misinformation – government officials being involved and even, lets say, “bending the law” as part of an effort to keep a boy from being informed about the death of his mother so he doesn’t get “distracted” from his schoolwork? Seems a bit excessive to me.

      • Somethin Somethin

        ..a culture that values education..

        Damn I am so tired of this bullshit. If this culture valued education so much they would spend a little more time auditing it. Quality not Quantity.

      • kaka

        Interesting point.

        I wonder though – is it that “education” itself is important in modern day China, or is it the need to gain a place at university amidst massive competition, so that you have a better chance of gaining any sort of job that you hope pays a living wage, again amidst massive competition, so that you can live something approaching a normal life – and of course provide for your parents retirement?

        I think instead of “education”, once might say that “examinations” are more important in China – because they are literally life or death for some people – but that does not mean that “education” or the acquiring of knowledge is per se inherently more important.

        Indeed, it would be fair to say that “the right answer” (according to the mark-scheme) is far more important than gaining knowledge or understanding of anything…

    • whiskersthecat

      The really fucked up part is that it appears that the media seemed to know about all of this before the poor boy did.

      • filabusta

        Yeah plenty of cameras waiting to document the ‘brave’ event.

    • Ray

      The school should really be like lenient to give him a private test after his mourning instead of having to cover up everything so he can take the test on schedule. If his father died after a few days then he would’ve regretted it for the rest of his life.

    • asdf

      These exams are just as intense in korea and Japan. but as always china receives most of the shit talk from western sheeple like you.

      • bomber

        wtf? Korea and Japan don’t get a pass, man. 12 days. twelve fucking days. The confucian examination system is pathetic. east asians should fucking let that die!

      • Teacher in China

        Seeing as how this is a website about China, and not Korea or Japan, it shouldn’t be so hard to understand why you’re seeing so many criticisms of China’s system.

    • donscarletti

      The October 1 military parade is much more similar to Moscow Victory Day Parade parades in that it is more focussed on showing off numbers and technology than pageantry, symbolism and rhetoric.

      The Germans had tanks, planes and road mobile ballistic missiles, but it was the Russians who thought of making the centrepiece of a parade.

    • Hongjian

      None of you fuckups really grasped it, arent you?

      The Gaokao, the merciless education system, the rote memorization and everything that is stupid and as inflexible as your grandmom’s cunt serves only one purpose in the Chinese society since ancient times: A chance for even the lowest and poorest of all people to climb a ladder that is at least remotely meritocratic compared to a whole system made of corruption, guanxi and nepotism.

      Even if every fucking Chinese knows that the Gaokao and the whole education system is a giant fuckup, they wont change it, because what comes after is even worse! With so many people, all with the same desire to become a corrupt official/mandarin, there must be a merciless battle-royale that is the Gaokao, to determine who gets the sweet spot of robbing the state and people on his high position. Without the Gaokao, the results are very much clear: Only the most well-connected and highest-born will get everything. But with the Gaokao, there is at least that 0,0001% chance that a lowly peasant whose family has no noteworthy connection or fortune at all, might become a rich corrupt official after acing the Gaokao.

      Gaokao isnt education. It is the climbing up the foodchain of the overdrowded, darwinistic chinese society.

      So, dear americunts and english teachers in China, shut the fuck up!

      • Fu ZhiGao

        My what an angry tirade. It would seem that you could still learn a bit about capitalization and spelling from those ignorant Ameircans and English teachers.

      • dim mak

        Finally, the only person that gets it

        Education amongst Chinese is more about prestige than anything else. The school you went to, the certificate you got is far more important than whatever you learned/neglected to learn. Doesn’t matter if you had to rote memorize a bunch of unimportant shit, or if you took some cheating shortcut, the most important thing in the end is the credentials you use to gain an edge in the rat race

      • tai wai

        The Gaokao, the merciless education system, the rote memorization and everything that is stupid and as inflexible as your grandmom’s cunt serves only one purpose in the Chinese society since ancient times: A chance for even the lowest and poorest of all people to climb a ladder that is at least remotely meritocratic compared to a whole system made of corruption, guanxi and nepotism.

        Since the society is unequal, merciless, and corrupt, the education system must be unforgiving? Right.

        Fix the farking society.

    • Josh

      How about you stop making outrageous hyperbolic comparisons and being a whiny pussy. If he’d found out about his mother, he might have done worse on the exam he’d been preparing to take for the prior 3 years and it may have fucked his college life and his professional life afterward. It was a lie, yes, but it was with good intent.

      Comparing it with gymnasts and ugly girl singers and military parades is reaching pretty fucking far. If your vitriol for the Chinese is so clearly evident on here, maybe you should do yourself a favor and gtfo before it becomes too obvious rl.

    • Dan

      His parents obviously cared about his education a lot. They were on their way home from the school conference before the tragic accident happened. Although hiding the truth definitely seems questionable, I think Mom and Dad would have wanted nothing more than to have their son ace the exam.

      Not saying I’m disagreeing with you, but you can see this family valued education a great deal.

    • vv

      What happened to his mother has already happened, by telling him earlier would not change a thing. Gaokao is ridiculously important for his future and determines his path for coming years; his mother would probably have wanted this, for him to do his best on gaokao and have a brighter future.

  • lonetrey

    [What do you think? Given a similar situation involving something you feel is critical to a child’s future, would you temporarily deceive the child about something as important as a parent’s death?]

    In this tough situation, I think an outsider has to look at it from the pros/cons of the two choices.
    1) Lie to him, and let him take the exam without distraction
    2) Place priority on the truth, and risk a lower exam score

    I know the way I worded 1 and 2 is slightly biased, so let me explain.

    If they should choose to go with 1, they allow him a fair chance for his future. However, his mental stability might be shaken after finding out about the deception. Life isn’t entirely about academia, but the Gaokao exams are seen as a gateway to a financially stable lifestyle.

    If they should choose to go with 2, they allow him to know they care about the truth more, and respect his rights as a human being to know what’s happen to his parents. However, his mental stability might be shaken after finding out about the traffic accident and his mind could be unfocused on the exam. Life does place a heavy emphasis on a person’s character, otherwise the world wouldn’t go on spinning round without humanity destroying it. But, again, the Gaokao exams are seen as a gateway to a financially stable lifestyle so one might say it’s too big of a risk to take for the sake of 2 weeks of peace of mind (their minds, the ones hiding the truth, not the poor guy’s).

    In all honesty, I think I would have to agree that the people hiding the truth came out on top in terms of minimizing collateral damage, though if you had asked me this a few years ago I would’ve raged at the deceivers. I’ve been mentally shaken before exams and seen the devastating financial costs that comes with it, so I can see why they did what they did. However, they have to shoulder the burden of having lied to him. They know what they did, and even if it was justified, consequences are consequences and will not go away just by reasoning it out.

    • linette


      You are right. But I just want to know. Did the mother died right away? If he was given a last chance to see her before she passed and he was denied, that just wasn’t right. I am not familiar with the gaokou system. Under special circumstances like family death, student sick…could they request the school to take the exam a month later?

      I was very sick one time during my final exams and the school let me take the exam a week later.

      • simon

        good point linette,

        if his mother was still in intensive care and he had a chance to see her before she passed away it would be a totally different matter.

        however had she passed away during the accident i would have done the same thing. i don’t see any good coming out of telling him his mother died before the exam, it would be like a double slap in the face

        • anon

          Sounds like the mother made it to the hospital but expired there as doctors were trying to save her?

          • anon

            The one image in the video seems to suggest she wasn’t conscious and may never have regained consciousness? If that was the case, there wouldn’t have been any opportunities for last words.

    • red scarf

      This story just shows how poor the Chinese exam system if critically viewed, if your outcome in life is based on an exam or series of exams.

      On the one hand I understand that this exam is important due so the implications it has on the outcome of the test taker. However, surely there should be some apparatus for circumstances like this, less stricter marking/scoring politics or the exam delayed by a few weeks, or a longer time to finished it, I have taken exams due to medical reasons under watch in my home with extend time..

      However due to this he has missed the chance to have have his final words with this mother or to be with her in the final moments, someone only he will understand in the years to come.

  • Jeff

    either choice is not fair. Now Chinese society has just reinforced to this kid that lying is ok.

    • charlolo

      actually that is quite true. there’re tons of ‘white-lie’ stories in Chinese text books that are supposed to be ‘respectful’. so the value is basically lying is wrong, but ‘white-lie’s should be encouraged. i feel westerns are really strongly against all kinds of lies, which sometimes appears too much to me. maybe that’s the reason.

  • Brett Hunan

    If he wasnt mentally prepared, he could have waited until next year to take the exam. I believe the Chinese thought on this is “the dead are dead, nothing will change that”. In China, parents will always know whats better for their children…

    • Alan

      It is just another example of style over substance, of face above all, of putting “success” above failure.

      No room for second, or third place, in contemporary china, the gaokao is not the be all and end all, maybe they should learn from Bill Gates who never graduated, Richard Branson who started from owning a small record shop, and numerous others who while they may have “failed” at a formal education, still went on to do great things in life.

      That they covered this up, is shameful, in itself.

      • linette


        Stories like Bill Gate or Mark Zuckerberg can never happen in China system. Small businesses entrepreneurs is not easy.

        • anon

          Actually, there have been quite a few Chinese Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg stories, also in the tech industry so it it’s hardly “never”.

          Jack Ma can be compared to Richard Branson, failed his exams twice, got online, went on to found the Alibaba empire. Terry Guo from Taiwan, which has a similar education system, started off selling plastic in a shed. There are lots of examples.

          These people are famous because they are the minority and it isn’t easy to become so successful for the vast majority of people in China or outside of it. It takes extraordinary people with extraordinary decisions and often extraordinary luck.

          I think the Chinese HAVE learned from Bill Gates and Richard Branson. Where do you think all the comments about the gaokao not being the end all are coming from? But naturally, as it is around the world, people and parents still do value getting into a good school because people who generally are able to do so generally go on to lead lives that are generally better off than those who generally didn’t do as well in school. It isn’t perfect, but exams and schooling does have some correlation with individual aptitude, and individual aptitude influences one’s success in life.

        • Xiongmao

          That’s incorrect. While China 2012 might be a lot harder, I do know some people who started out with nothing and no education who are not worth in the 2-3 digits million US dollars (they play golf where I do). The one I know best began with a small jade shop, worked 20 hours a day in the beginning, kept investing everything he didn’t spend on food and today 20 years later he drives a 200 wan Mercedes, owns several houses and is one of the richest men in the county.

      • barack obama

        how successful are you Alan? unless you are considered pretty successful you have no room to talk.

  • Irvin

    I hate both my parents, so I can’t really relate with this story.

    • dim mak

      You shouldn’t hate your parents ;_; even if they’re jerks

      • Nick in Beijing

        Why? Just because there is a biological bond between parent and child doesn’t necessarily require that one like, or love their parents.

        If one’s parents are abusive, negligent, uncaring, or otherwise grossly irresponsible then they aren’t deserving of the love and respect that they apparently don’t show their children.

        If those bad parents take major steps to improve themselves then I would agree that they should be given a chance, but otherwise there is no obligation to love one’s parents if they don’t show the love that a child needs.

        • ZlsetrdX

          “Love” is a very subjective thing. In some countries *cough* rich ones *cough*, parents who spank some disrespectful brat (and yes, I have seen it: 5 year olds calling their parents names and dropping the f-word) can be deemed “abusive”; parents who deny a brat some tidbit can be deemed “negligent”; parents who don’t pay attention to a brat’s every little whim can be deemed “uncaring”; parents who give their kids tap water and don’t walk them with a leash can be deemed “grossly irresponsible”. Anyway, 1st world problems aside, it is children who are obliged to love and respect their parents and not parents who should “earn” or try to “deserve” love and respect from kids, because first there was Monday then Tuesday.

  • Annie

    Is anybody else as disturbed as I am that there is such an extensive news report of this? They literally had cameras following this kid from before the exam, and caught on film the exact moment when he is given the bad news. The circumstances are horrible anyway, but it’s even more twisted that they used this kid’s life as… as what? propaganda? reality tv? “news”? I understand that the media loves a sob-story, but I find this rather sick…

    • alex

      Yeah exactly.

      I can understand the white-lie and forgive them for it, but as for the media people waiting with his aunt outside the school on the day, photographing his break down and following him to the hospital… despicable.

      • tai wai

        Perhaps it wasn’t just media sensationalism. Perhaps it was done to bring attention to the downsides of this kind of flawed educational system.

        • matt

          I’m sure that’s how the reporter is justifying their coverage, but I’d think there are less exploitative ways to point out flaws in the education system.

          For me, the kicker is that someone with a duty to protect this kid (a family member, school official, police officer or doctor) sold him out to the media.

  • D. Tective

    Until China deals with the rampant corruption and stops rich people being able to buy university spots and jobs for their kids, the “Gaokao” will be a cut-throat competition. Pathetic.

    • Buffy

      I thought the point of the Gaokao was to stop the rich from buying university places for their kids.

  • Slob

    As a father myself, I would want my son to do the examination rather than failing it just because of me. Sure, they lied to the boy but what would the mother have wanted? Parents want the best for their kids and will do absolutely anything to make sure they are safe and secure.

    This unfair system, under special circumstances like a chronic illness or death of a family member should allow the student to retake the examination at another time of their choice. If they’re ‘forcing’ them to do it at that specific time and place with no chance of an alternative solution, that is truly messed up in my opinion. The GaoKao exam is more important here than anything else in a Chinese person’s entire life. Back in Australia, the entrance exams are important but not so important as to be lied to about the death of your mother.

    So, in a way, being a parent in China I would have lied to him. Being a parent in Australia, I wouldn’t.

  • Getrealson

    Condolences brother! I know the pain will never go but hope it gets bearable sooner rather than later. RIP mum.

  • Song of the Article

    Battle Royale soundtrack


  • Notorious

    This family really cares about this young man’s future and well being. He should be thankful that he is loved.

    • Nick in Beijing

      One could argue that they really care about his future, but one could also argue that they only care about their own retirement nest egg because of this whole 4-1 thing going on in China now where one child has to support both parents, and grandparents. Who knows how this phenomenon relates to extended family nowadays in China.

      One certainly HOPES that it is simply looking out for the kids future, but given the traditions of a Chinese family, it is doubtful that it is simply looking after his future. Especially with expensive medical and funeral debt piled on top of any other financial problems the family may have.

      • anon

        That’s a really cynical view, and one that I find at odds with the vast majority of Chinese parents and family. I think you’re taking the “Chinese are selfish, the kids are just my retirement plan” contempt too far.

        In fact, it’s arguable that having and raising a kid in China is far more expensive than the care the parents would receive in return, especially for parents factoring education costs and setting the kid up for marriage. Most parents would probably enjoy their later years more if they just didn’t have a kid at all and saved all that money for their retirement, in addition to saving their time and energy from raising that kid. Children are horrible investments when it comes down to purely practical terms. The bulk of the “return” on children is emotional, whether that means love or simply knowing you’re leaving behind something (or love being the evolutionary adaptation for survival of genes).

        There is selfishness in this world, a lot of it, but your skepticism about Chinese families in this case is rather distasteful.

  • Just Laowai

    What a country. It’s like we’re living in 1700 again. Next super-power my ass!

  • dim mak

    The gaokao problem will never go away because it’s not really a flaw in the system, it’s the result of fierce competitive mentality. Someone said to me that by offering many opportunities, people don’t need to base their entire life on the gaokao because they can still find good careers/schools even if they don’t do great. This completely ignores the Chinese mindset. That is, to get the “best” schooling no matter how insignificant the differences are, and then to judge people based on said schooling. In Canada, there were plenty of dumb kids who somehow made it into the same university, and plenty of people who went to 2 year tech academies only to get the same job as a 4 year graduate.

    In Vancouver, Chinese parents will climb over each other, sell and buy new houses just to wrangle their kids into one of the “good” high schools. The reality is, all high schools here are pretty much the same and are required to teach pretty much the same material. None of it is so challenging that a kid couldn’t just read the textbook by himself and score well on tests. In the end everyone takes the same easy provincials, the university admissions look at that score and your last 2 years’ grades, not which school you went to. Of course none of this stops parents from constantly exaggerating about which school is awful or how bad some teacher is. The mentality just never goes away.

    • tai wai

      And this is why communism failed. Well, that, and it isn’t economically viable.

      But the competitive mindset is antithetical to any ideal of universal equality.

      • anon

        You’ve got to be joking. This mentality has and had nothing to do with communism. How would you explain Westerners who value one school or one school district as being better than the other? This is hardly a Chinese mindset or mentality.

        It is definitely a competitive mindset because the world is a competition of scarce resources. There is nothing inherently Chinese about parents wanting the best for their children. Yes, there are people who go overboard just as there are people who really don’t care, but this mentality is par for the course.

        I thought most Western universities do factor in what school you went to, as it would affect what courses were available to you and how you performed relative to your peers and environment.

        • tai wai

          This mentality has and had nothing to do with communism. How would you explain Westerners who value one school or one school district as being better than the other?

          Uh, because Westerners aren’t communist?

          It is definitely a competitive mindset because the world is a competition of scarce resources.

          Which, again, is why communism failed.

          What will this new social order have to be like?

          Above all, it will have to take the control of industry and of all branches of production out of the hands of mutually competing individuals, and instead institute a system in which all these branches of production are operated by society as a whole – that is, for the common account, according to a common plan, and with the participation of all members of society.

          It will, in other words, abolish competition and replace it with association. — Frederick Engels The Principles of Communism

          Trying to eliminate all competition in China (or, well, anywhere, really, but especially China) is like eliminating all the water in the ocean.

          • anon

            I misunderstood you. I thought you were commenting about Chinese people’s mentalities (since that’s what dim mak was talking about) but its clear now that you were talking about how competition inherently undermines the ideal of communism. I apologize for the mistake.

            I don’t quite understand the “especially China” part though. What makes China especially difficult to eliminate competition compared to anywhere else?

          • tai wai

            I don’t quite understand the “especially China” part though. What makes China especially difficult to eliminate competition compared to anywhere else?

            Well, maybe I’m going down a slippery slope, but I’d say that the Chinese people are some of the most competitive I’ve come across.

            It may just have to do with this time in history, though.

          • anon

            Interesting. I usually hear people on this site complaining about how unmotivated and how lacking in initiative Chinese people (coworkers, employees, etc.) are, which I consider to be the opposite of competitiveness.

            Perhaps “competitive” may be subject to some subjective interpretation here.

        • dim mak

          Dude, are you always on?

          The point being that Chinese or at least Asian parents do this more than any other, that’s what makes it stand out. If something wasn’t perceived to be more or less remarkable than the usual then no one would bother pointing it out in the first place. If you don’t think it’s noticeable enough to be mentioned then just argue that. You don’t need go defensive and pull the “everybody does it” thing every single time. Of course they do. You could say that in any comparison, then we’d all be sitting around pointing out the obvious and not actually discussing anything. Chinese people have more of some things and less of others. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it ain’t.

          Fucking political correctness man. You’re not white. Snap out of it. *shakes you*

          • anon

            How am I always on? I think this was the first day in about a week that I’ve been able to take the time to really read and comment.

            I think you have me confused, or at least have dumbed down what I think. My past comments should have made clear that I recognize that there are things “perceived to be more or less remarkable than the usual” and that things can be compared. I’ve done so countless times myself. How else would I beg reason when comparing mainlanders to Hong Kongers?

            I also don’t see how I was getting defensive specifically to you. I misunderstood tai wai above, thinking he was implying something that on second read wasn’t the case, and I apologized for it.

            I do make the “everyone does it” argument often, but I would argue that’s because we get a lot of douchebags arguing that something negative is attributable to certain people but not themselves on here, and I can’t stand that sort of self-righteousness. I’m not going to apologize for it. You can harp on me when I start getting on people’s cases for arguing that something positive is attributable to certain people but not themselves.

            Finally, I’m amused by the delicate humor in your last paragraph but I have no aversion to being accused of political correctness. While I find also funny that you think being politically correct is expected of and demanded of specifically white people as if all others are thus exempt (a notion I understand, even sympathize with but nonetheless disagree with), you actually don’t know what I am.

          • anon
          • dim mak


            I mean ‘on’ as in everything you post
            I guess I don’t notice as much because I don’t read most comments here

            Didn’t you say were Chinese? Or was that someone else?
            If not, then never mind, move along.

            *shakes you some more*

            But you sound Chinese to me.

          • dim mak

            Oh I’m done with that conversation, it was like discussing astronomy with someone who thinks the earth is flat

          • anon

            Some people HERE think I am or otherwise “sound” Chinese simply because I’m often seen as “defending” the Chinese (HERE), when its really me just getting on their case for what I think are really inexcusably offensive comments and behavior. I was most amused by the one Hong Kong guy who thought I was mainland Chinese. You can all safely assume I’m not.

            If you meant “on” perhaps in being “serious” or “politically correct” all the time in my comments, then maybe I am by your measure. That’s just the way I am, and I am aware but of your philosophy that racism and bigotry is unavoidable, which I actually respect on a level but still fight against. I think I regularly comment on humor as well but I’m sure I’m more memorable to most here for my serious comments.

          • dim mak

            Well in my experience few if any human being goes to the lengths you do to defend something they’re not. As far as I’m concerned all politics is identity politics, even if people don’t realize it while it’s happening.

            But you know what I think?

            I think you are Kai Pan.


            -Kai Pan is on every China blog/site except this one for some reason
            -Kai Pan is even on KoreaBANG, but somehow not here
            -Kai Pan is long-winded and preachy
            -Kai Pan respects orthography and paragraphs at the same intervals you do
            -Kai Pan has gone into semi-retirement but I suspect he still lurks around
            -Kai Pan is relatively fair and not as angry as most Chinese posters
            -Kai Pan sounds just like you
            -The odds of there being another like him is slim at best

            Conclusion: HI KAI

            Just admit it!

            I know it’s you ;_;

          • moop

            dim mak, i actually agree with you, and have wondered the same thing

          • anon

            Yes, you’re not the first person on here to say this but I was around when he was and even earlier. I also read and commented on his blog before they disbanded it. There are indeed a lot of things similar about us but some of your theories are just wishful thinking.

            I don’t think I’ve seen him comment recently on any other site in a long time, except koreaBANG (I use a different name there btw). Oh wait, he occasionally comments on the cesspool that is Hidden Harmonies.

            There are so many long-winded and preachy people on all China blogs as well as chinaSMACK. I can’t possibly be the only one, nor was Kai Pan.

            The orthography and paragraphs connection is ridiculous. Plenty of people write decent English with paragraphs, except coala banana.

            I actually know for a fact that he’s still lurking around and why he doesn’t comment on chinaSMACK anymore. Not my place to say why though.

            So you’re saying I’m relatively fair and not angry? Thanks.

            There are plenty of people like him. Why do you think he had readers and supporters? I definitely voted for him in that one contest that was on here, the one where Pusan Playa tied with him, an interesting reflection of the distribution of readers this site gets if there ever was one.

          • dim mak

            I mean they are few people like Kai who are also Chinese, if that’s what you are

            But nevermind, I will obsess over you in a different thread :3

          • anon

            I disagree. Kai Pan reminds me of a lot of liberal ABCs and the fact that he attended Berkeley shouldn’t be a surprise. I had coffee with him once in Shanghai actually. We had laughs about the commenters of the day, exactly with the same condescending arrogance moop is thinking of right now. Of course, we laughed about the people at Fool’s Mountain and Peking Duck more.

            If you obsess over me, I hope it is not in any strange sexual way, especially since I suspect you’re actually rather young and I’m, well, I’m quite old.

          • dim mak

            th…there’s nothing strange about it ; ;

      • mr. wiener

        The system of Exams has been around far longer than communism, many centuries before in fact. If there is any merit at all to Dim Mak’s “4000 plus years of Chinese civilization” spiel, it is that despite being conquered, despite Han genetic domination being largely a myth etc, etc. China still lumbers on into the next millenia with it’s system of govt, teeming masses and examination hell largely unchanged, just renamed.

      • mr. wiener

        Anyone ever read Franz Kafka’s short story :”The Great Wall”?

  • Dat Ankle

    I dont blame his family and school staff for with holding that his mother died, things like that will distract you and they wanted him as mentally fit for the test as anybody. It must be horrible to have that news thrown at you when you finished though, I wish they did it somewhere more private so he can grieve with his family in peace.

    I dont understand why people are damning the gaokao exam for the mothers death.

  • Dawei

    There are two stories here, one on the evils of the Gaokaoi, the other a human story about a family deeply concerned about the future of one of their own.

    I think it took a good deal of courage and strength to not rush and tell this kid about the death of his mother. That would have been the easy thing to do. It shows that they love him very much.

    My mother did something similar for me, she was in hospital with serious kidney complications and nearly died, but she point blank ordered my father not to tell me because I was going through finals at uni (all or nothing result).

  • Jason

    What a dysfunctional education system? More like What a dysfunctional education culture! Only a backwards culture like what China is today would promote success at any cost. IVs for students who are studying, mothers dead because of child’s exam, bribes and pay offs for government leaders children to get into schools. What’s next, Chinese parents flying to U.S. to have their baby so they can take get citizenship & college positions meant for Americans? You bet…

  • eattot

    why this is a piece of news???

  • Little Wolf

    Well…you wouldn’t have to dig much to find many stories of people struck by tragic news before significant events and used it as inspiration to rise above. Even high school kids. Seems to me that with all the effort to hide this news and make a news story out of it, somebody could have got off their lazy ass and arranged the boy to take the test at another time.

    • el negro pedro

  • ric

    i respect that family’s decision. there is no right answer to this question but given the exact same scenario i would want to know right away…and i would still take the exam and… hope for the best.

    • Little Wolf

      I was in a hospital emergency room a few years ago after mistakenly had poured bleach on my eyeball thinking it was eyewash.(the bottles looked almost exactly alike!) While I was being treated an ambulance had arrived and there was a flurry of activity. About 15 minutes later, as I was leaving I heard several crashes and some screams and saw a young guy going completely berserk, flipping over tables, throwing chairs and other things. The bao an were just standing around and I that he might hurt somebody so I ran over and tackled him and wrestled him to the ground. The guy was not happy about this and was freakishly strong and was pretty hefty to begin with and I had to get pretty rough to keep him down when suddenly he stopped resisting and just started baying like a wounded animal. I can’t really describe it but it was the saddest sound I ever heard. And he just laid there moaning and crying until enough bao an had arrived to take him off my hands. A lady doctor walked up to me afterward and explained to me his mother had just been hit by a car and died and had just been given the news. Obviously, I felt pretty awful for the guy(I will never for that crying sound) and even understood his reaction. But he was really out of control and in a dangerous state. A no-win situation :(

  • Mop

    Well it’s not like they’re keeping the accident a secret from him forever.

  • Dr SUN

    A tough situation , I can understand why they lied and it shows how much they do really care for their nephew/ student.
    The exam system in China is flawed in so many ways, everyone knows that, but it’s what is current and very important in regard to this boys future and his families.

    Tough choice, but I think they made the right one.

  • jeffli

    The exam system is what it is.
    You think its any different in western countries?
    Well its not.
    unless you pay!

    My condolences to the poor young chap. I know what he’s going through.

  • jeffli

    I have one request for the world, the last line of LuXun’s diary of a madman
    The story ends with a famous line:
    “Save the children…”
    All of us adults (18 to 99) are responsible for the mess we bestow on the worlds children!

  • Maria

    I am sorry for your loss…your mother still loves you and is proud of you. Be brave and cheerful, especially for your father, he needs you right now. Blessings.

  • John

    Poor kid – my heart goes out to him and his family from America

  • El Puma R.

    I’d rather not say anything… these are strange days we’re living

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  • redgirl

    I have lied to my Aunt, when I knew her son was dead .We were talking on the phone all I could repeat was he had been in an bad accident an she needed to get a flight as soon as she could.
    Then I used the key he had given me, to go and clean up his flat. I removed His “young man’s stuff ” ( you know what I mean.) I knew he would not want his Mom to see that. Yea, I lied, but I do not regret any of it.

  • Xiongmao

    What fucking bullshit. Who in the whole wide fuck are they to decide if the boy should know or not? What if his father had died too while in the hospital and he never got the chance to see him? I can’t fucking believe this fucked up piece of shit country sometimes. Yes, I’m mad as hell. What a load of fucking good-for-nothing, waste-of-oxygen douchebags.

  • The Enlightened One

    I am going to be blunt.

    The Chinese education system is horrid and creates emotionally, creatively repressed robots. Unable to use logic and hardly able to recall the enormous amount of facts choked down their throats even a year or two after studying them.

    The Gao Kao system does not work. Unless it was designed by keeping the population of China down through suicides. Same goes for the Chinese education.

    If I have a child, sending it to a Chinese school would be equal to damning she/he to hell!

    • who are you to judge there family, just because you have everything hamded to you in a plate, they dont. it probably wasnt the easiest for the family it takes alot of money for people in china to seek medical advice whereas you depend on the nhs. people in china also dont commit suicide because of the gaokao some people are lucky to even be able to pay the amount of money for school, the resources, travelling, uniform, extra tution and for some students not even being able to live with the parents but other relatives which are closer to school. if your are even able to read it says the children there get prepared at young ages, because parents and close family share how important it is for them to do well for something they may mever be able to resit because they cant afford it, dont take your life for granted and judge others

  • C

    My friend just had the same thing happen to him – his dad just died of a car accident in the middle of finals week. He has now cut himself off from everyone and doesn’t want to talk about it and only concentrate on finishing his tests asap. I wondered how I would want things to happen if I was in that position. If I wasn’t told, I’d be angry over it. If I was told, I would be angry that I could not concentrate.

    I don’t think we should be so quick to call the authorities and relatives single minded. It’s different in China. This test literally determines your future. So the decision to tell him or not is even harder.

  • patko

    Never seen so many cold hearted people bunched together on a website. You guys are assholes. Worst community I have ever seen.

    • TAZZ

      You think China got where it is by being pussified. Grow a set and then we’ll talk.

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  • mr.wiener

    Most people who claim to be “Han” are not. The Han were only a small group in China and gradually the people they conquered came to call themselves this also. It’s kind of like Everyone in Europe calling themselves “Flemings” if the Flemings had conquered all of Europe.
    My goodness a posting from 2 years ago.

    • Dr Sun

      there are about as many pure Han as there are pure Cornish, Hun,Celts, Romans, Athenians, vikings or Navaho . Its that simple.

  • Radioactive_Panda

    This story brings back memories from 2011 when my mom’s friend’s daughter was sick for days no one believed her until they took her to the hospital. Every once in a while she would scream in pain, docs couldn’t find out what was wrong with her. I only learnt she died hours after I finished finals for that semester.

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