No day passes by without another story on Chinese cheating themselves into university, IP theft, corruption, avoiding of the rules. China veteran Kaiser Kuo dives into the culture of cheating for SupChina.
I don’t think there’s much of a mystery here. It’s all basically a function of scarcity and of the intensity of competition, and these in turn come down to the fact of China’s enormous population, breakneck development, and brutally pragmatic focus on results.
In the nearly 40 years since reform and opening began at the very end of the 1970s, China has been a place where a kind of Social Darwinian law of the jungle has prevailed. A society where the bedrock Confucian ethics already tended toward situational, where there’s never really been any dominant religious institution claiming transcendent moral authority, and where access to every rung on the ladder of success was already contested, the introduction of an ethos of “to get rich is glorious” was bound to create something of a mad scramble.
To be sure, there are still many, many good and honest people in China for whom the rules still matter, who would never think to cheat, or to falsify data, or to jump the queue or bribe an official. But I think anyone who looks at China today honestly must recognize that those solid citizens have diminished in number appreciably over the last four decades.
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