4 December 2023

Misleading: Idea of discouraging rural children from attending university was raised 12 years ago

The old remarks by a delegate of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference were falsely associated with this year’s parliamentary sessions in March.

A tweet on March 14 shared an image of what appears to be a news article saying that Wang Ping, a delegate of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, opposed rural children studying at university because nobody would be farming otherwise.

The user commented, when translated to English, “Reinforcing the hierarchy and keeping rural kids out of college. Wasn’t that how serfdom was propagated in the past?” Serfdom refers to a historical condition in which peasants were bound to the land.

The tweet was posted after the annual National People’s Congress ended in Beijing on March 13. The same claim also appeared on YouTube and Reddit shortly after.

Meanwhile, a Netease article published on March 13 said Wang was heavily criticized for making such bizarre remarks when this year’s parliamentary sessions were coming to an end.

But all these social media posts and claims are misleading. This news dates back to 2011.

Portrait of Wang Ping, CPPCC delegate from 2008 to 2013. Courtesy: Southern Metropolis Daily

Wang is currently not a CPPCC delegate. According to official records, she served on the ethnic and religious affairs committee in the 11th Chinese People Political Consultative Conference for five years, from 2008 to 2013.

While there is another “Wang Ping” currently serving in the 14th CPPCC, this delegate with the same name is a man and a member of the social welfare and social security sector.

In March 2011, Wang’s remarks made national media headlines, drawing heated discussions on Weibo.

Screenshots of the news reports from Southern Metropolis Daily (left) and the Information Times (right)

According to the reports by the Information Times on March 8, 2011, and the Southern Metropolis Daily two days later, Wang raised the idea on March 7 during the sidelines of the CPPCC conference.

When interviewed by the media, Wang told reporters that “not everyone must go to university in order to be happy.”

She added that this includes children from both rural areas and urban cities, mentioning China’s high unemployment rate at the time, as well as the heavy mental and financial toll a tertiary education could impose.

Wang said rural children would be better off acquiring technical skills before pursuing academic knowledge. Annie Lab could not find any reports about her wanting to retain them as farmers.

National-level delegates of both the CPPCC and the National People’s Congress meet once a year in Beijing. China’s largest annual political gathering is commonly referred to as “the two sessions.”

This year’s “two sessions” ran from March 5 to March 13.