China: School girl wants to be “corrupt official”

On the first day of China’s school term (1 September), Guangzhou’s Southern Metropolitan Daily interviewed some primary one kids about their life-goals. One of them told the journalist that her dream was to “become an official”. When the journalist asked what kind of official she wanted to be, she replied that she wanted to “become a corrupt official. Corrupt officials have a lot of good stuff.”

The video is now in the youtube, the face of the girl has been blurred:

This reply made its rounds on Chinese media and blogs. Some think that it is just a random comment by a child, but many hold the view that it is a reflection of the society’s reality. A forum in ifeng shows some typical comments:

rviflss 2009-9-4 14:16: 童言无忌

We shouldn't take Children's words too seriously.

joanna-jin 2009-9-4 12:46: 可悲可恨啊,越长大越了解社会的黑暗

It makes one sad and angry, the more you grow up, the more you come to know about the dark side of the society.

上來看看的 2009-9-4 13:20 : 我倒是觉现在的孩子才叫懂得什么叫现实,学校教的那一套就如同走过场一样,如果按照学校教的走向社会,那你只能回家了

I think that children nowadays know what is the reality. The values taught at school are empty. If you follow the principles learned at school and try to survive in society, then your only fate will be to go back home.

toplong6450 2009-9-4 16:26: 只是说出了实话啊!!!! 大人应该好好检讨 我难过啊

Only speaks of the truth! The adults should reflect upon themselves. It makes me sad.

wangbaozhu 2009-9-8 21:21: 皇帝的新装,只有孩子才说句实话。老师们,不要自欺欺人了,从小学做起,教他们学做贪官和奸商吧。

In the story of Emperor’s New Clothes, only a child speaks of the truth. Teachers, don’t cheat yourself anymore. Starting from primary school, you guys are teaching children to become corrupt officials and businessmen.

Active internet writer Shihua (施化), in a recent article, comments about the school girl’s reply, and attributes China’s widespread phenomenon of corruption to an unlimited “National Public Power”:


This six-year old has said what adults don’t dare to say. This reply has two facts. Firstly, only officials have the power to corrupt; there are only corrupt officials but nothing like corrupt citizens. Secondly, to enjoy material well-being in China, the best way is to become an official.

贪污必须先做官,也就是行使国家公权力。但是,国家公权力(National Public Power)指的是公共权力,而不是国家机构自己的权力。也就是说,公权力强调的不是国家行政对社会、对人民的“管理”,而是对人民神圣不可侵犯的私有权力的保护。

To engage in corruption, you first has to become an official, i.e. the exercise of national public power. But national public power means power of the public, not power of government’s institutions. National public power is not a control by the government over the public and the citizen; it is a protection over their private power.

由于中国长期实行单一的公有制和计划经济,不可能自发产生私法观念和私权观念,所形成的唯一只有公法、公权观念…… 人民和企业的一切行为都须得到国家的许可,国家拥有绝对不受限制的权力。这样一来,本来应当保护私人的公权力就开始向私人领域伸出贪婪的手。

Because China has practiced a socialist and planned economic system for a long time, private property and rights cannot develop on its own. Public power and regulations are the dominating concepts… All actions of the citizens and business have to be approved by the state; the state has unlimited power. Therefore, national public power, originally intended to protect private rights, extends its hand of greed and corruption to the private sphere.


When national public power is not formed by a democratic process, but controlled by a single dominant political party, its meaning will be instantly eroded. Corruption co-exists with an over-exercise of national public power, but rarely with private power.


  • If anything, I think the video is funny.


    PS: Something wrong with the formatting of this post. The video frame is too large, it runs over the side column.

  • […] GlobalVoices, who have a longer comment. addthis_pub = 'mattwardman';addthis_logo = […]

  • yu888

    Its funny on the surface but only an idiot would not see how deep this issue actually is. Sad, but that is the reality in a developing country where the government has so much power. So much has developed so fast partially because of the corruption, and yet because of this, it is so unfair. Sigh.

  • It’s a very good post.I think we should not take the children’s word seriously.By the way thanks for the information.Keep it up.

  • Children throughout the world are renowned for their candor and honesty and any parent knows this. This young one has called it as she sees it.

  • […] Y antes de que se me olvide, aquí está el enlace a la síntesis que hace Global Voices Online de la contestación de la niña y las reacciones de la blogósfera china—traducidas al […]

  • Lisa

    Awesome song about the corruption

  • […] Metropolitan Daily interviewed some kids about their life-goals. One girl told the journalist that her dream is to become “a corrupt official.” That’s the spirit, […]

  • […] Asia editor Oiwan Lam that I want to write for Global Voices. She wrote back immediately, and my very first post, about a video showing a Chinese school girl saying that she wanted to become a corrupt official […]

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