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50 Anomalies That Chinese People Accept as a Part of Life

[Editor’s Note: An article published by the International Herald Leader, a weekly newspaper under Xinhua, lists 50 deviations that Chinese people accept as a part of life. Due to our limited space, only the title of each section of the article is translated.] [1]


1. Mine disasters are frequent.

2. Common people kneel down to appeal to the government.

3. Cases of miscarriage of justice follow one after the other.

4. The use of force and black-box operations are common means used to relocate residents.

5. Officials are rude when speaking in public.

6. Charitable donations are considered to be government revenue.

7. Citizens with technical skills and knowledge often emigrate overseas.

8. Students enroll in college with a false identity.

9. Officials involved in scandals quietly return to office.

10. At the annual National People’s Congress and People’s Political Consultative Conference, attendees offer ridiculous proposals or advice to the government. (Ed. As an example, one member of the National Committee of The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference proposed that all private Internet cafés be banned and that the government run them.)

11. When prosecuting people for their illegal acts, the government targets the wealthy first.

12. Everyone in the country strives to be a government employee.

13. Fish and shrimp are disappearing from the rivers.

14. Government employees yell at taxpayers.

15. Government employees’ use of taxpayer money for tourist junkets is skyrocketing.

16. Catching thieves leads to catching corrupt officials. (Ed. Many examples involve local police officers who investigate robberies. What then happens is that the victims themselves end up being prosecuted, while the corrupt officials cannot explain the source of their wealth or personal assets.)


17. During the Chinese New Year holiday season, railway tickets are very difficult to get.

18. The old and the young are going crazy buying a house.

19. Most of the time, gas prices are rising.

20. Doctors are used to taking bribes for routine medical treatment.

21. Attending kindergarten is more difficult than getting enrolled in a college. (Ed. The tuition for kindergarten is much higher.)

22. Government media often tout a magic doctor who later turns out to be quack.

23. Poisonous food floods the country.

24. Driving is slower than walking.

25. Banks ask for millions in fees.

26. Migrant workers climb to the top of a crane to get attention because their pay is late.

27. People often sell a kidney to come up with enough money to save a son.

(Ed. Many parents have to sell one of their own organs in order to come up with enough money to pay for their child’s medical treatment.)

28. Universities report that their graduates still looking for work are actually “employed,” and even that their salaries are “being raised.” (Ed. To entice new students, some universities make their statistics look good by reporting a high employment rate. They categorized some graduates who were still looking for a job as “employed.” They also say their salaries are going up, among other things.)

29. Toll stations are everywhere.

30. The “National Day” holidays have become the travel season to boost the economy. (Ed. Since 1999, the government has extended the holidays surrounding Chinese New Year, Chinese Labor Day, and National Day to a whole week.)

31. Public hearings have become “Raising the Price Hearings.” (Ed. To justify raising prices, relevant authorities usually hold public hearings prior to the increase.)


32. TV programs are “Taiwanized.” (Ed. Many TV programs, especially entertainment programs, mimic those in Taiwan.)

33. Girls who worship money are everywhere.

34. Universities are managed as if they were government agencies. (Ed. Many Chinese universities are subordinate to the Ministry of Education and have a certain administrative hierarchy.)

35. People of different generations are labeled as “born in the 70s,” “born in the 80s,” or “born in the 90s.”

36. Piracy is widely accepted in society.

37. Cheap knock-offs of famous brands are everywhere. (Ed. Hiphone vs. iPhone; iPed vs. iPad; etc.)

38. Making fun of history is in fashion.

39. The incidence of scandalous pornographic photos has mushroomed. (Ed. It started in 2008, with Hong Kong movie star Edison Chen, whose intimate and private photos of a few actresses were distributed over the Internet. Later, many such incidents took place in mainland China.)

40. Different local areas compete to be the authentic hometown of historic figures, the purpose being to attract tourists to boost the local economy.

41. Academic corruption is common among Chinese scholars.

42. Celebrity athletes are often involved in scandals.


43. After it rains, cities are routinely flooded, due to the lack of any drainage system.

44. Sidewalks specifically for the blind are usually occupied by parked vehicles and bicycles.

45. Roads in the city are often torn up. Either they are under construction or being prepared for construction.

46. Irrigated, arable land often becomes a factory.

47. Ads for “providing fake certificates” are visible everywhere.

48. Chengguan, or city managers, raid and drive away small vendors.

49. Real estate management only knows how to collect a fee (Ed. rather than take care of a problem).

50, International famous brands are most expensive in China.

[1] International Herald Leader, July 20, 2010