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In the essay titled "Father, I want to tell you this", the child who was referred to as Xiaozhi by Chinese media described how his father was glued to his cellphone "day and night and every day" as though he could not live without it. He even likened his father to "a vicious wolf that has starved for three days and three nights, eyeing that big chunk of fat meat". That'll be the happiest thing to happen to me in my whole life. I love you, my father. The boy's teacher, who gave only her surname Zhao, said Xiaozhi is an all-rounder in school and a long-distance running champion in class.

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She was so moved by the child's innocent wish and literary talent that she awarded him full marks for the essay which he wrote for his year-end examination. Only a minority can afford to buy property, but they buy it young — at a median age of The pooling process was given a boost after the financial crisis of , when the stock market plummeted while property remained white-hot. At first, we thought we could afford to have values. But then we realised our parents were right, and the iron rice bowl is the golden rule.

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Now we know that money is the most important thing. But parental expectations can fray relationships further, too. But her mom has been staying with her since November, and she wants to stay on. A partments are also an inextricable part of the dating game, especially as people move into their mid-twenties. But the criteria that parents give matchmakers, or advertise on placards that some of them carry around parks at the weekend while looking for suitable spouses for their unmarried offspring, are just as centred around salary, car and apartment. Like many stories in China, hers sounds like a didactic Marxist fable of the s, except without the happy ending where the now liberated woman joins the Communist Party.

At university, Sally dated a rural boy who was a student representative and, highly unusually, a sincere believer in Communism. She wanted a boyfriend who could buy her the phones and handbags she aspired to, while her parents wanted someone from a wealthy or well-connected family who could walk into a guaranteed career after university. She soon dumped him and, helped by a new nose paid for by her mother, snared a wealthy boy on campus.

A couple of years into the new relationship, however, she found the positions reversed. From a purely economic perspective, it was a deal that made sense. Yet as well as security and comfort, Sally also wanted at least the illusion of romance, not a nakedly commercial deal.

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So she broke off the relationship and began looking again. Women are in an ambiguous position in the marriage market. The gender imbalance caused by the one-child policy and gender-selective abortion, resulting in boys to girls in some areas, favours them.

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As soon as the sought-after wedding ring is in place, parental pressure switches to the production of grandchildren. A wonderfully cynical flowchart was circulated this Chinese New Year, showing the barrage of demands and criticisms from relatives aimed at young people returning home for the holiday.

When the child arrives, however, so do the in-laws, producing even more friction as parents, baby, and grandparents cram into a one-bedroom apartment.


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The idea promises romance, but opinion is decidedly mixed, even from the young. A poll on sohu. Tellingly, the majority of young men supported it. It takes a certain grit to dodge convention altogether. Luo, the young professional, saw no need to play the dating game at all, instead living with a moderately impoverished foreigner in his mid-thirties.


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I gave up any ambition for a family. H owever, while the relationships between the post generation and their parents are fraught with bitterness — whether over careers, houses or marriage — the distance between them and their grandparents is, curiously, much smaller. I had so much more in common with her than my mother. The cosmopolitanism and potential of a time before China closed its gates bridged generations, but so did the willingness of grandparents to talk about their past. Zhang told me how her grandfather had gone mad from persecution, leaving her grandmother to raise four children by herself.

He was carried to school on the neck of a servant. He became a mid-ranking officer in the army, but when the crowds came for my grandmother, he just blended into them. My grandfather just disappeared for years. There were three children, and the oldest sister had to look after them all. She was During the Cultural Revolution, having the bad blood of intellectuals or landlords meant schoolyard persecution, improvised beatings, less rations, and being blocked from every opportunity. Turning in your parents was never quite as fetishised as in the Soviet Union, with its cult of the martyred schoolchild Pavlik Morozov, supposedly murdered by his family in for denouncing his own father.

But it happened. A Chinese acquaintance of mine, now in his fifties, once described having to kill his own brother to stop him turning in their parents for owning banned books. Li, the aspiring official, had a closer and healthier relationship with his parents than anyone else I talked to, in part because he had made the effort to understand them. They worked hard to become someone I [might later] respect. My mum is from a really ordinary family, just workers, so she fought hard to get into university.

She really thought in class terms, even though she changed her own name and moved north so as not to be persecuted in the Cultural Revolution. She was the child of intellectuals, and her whole family was in Shanghai. When she went back to try and find them, there was no trace, all gone: parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews. The worst story of parental abuse I heard came from a young woman who asked for anonymity.

In tears, Lily called her father and demanded to know why he had never told her. But a seed of doubt remained. The most convincing evidence of her real parentage, Lily thought, was her curly hair. In the Mangalasutta , it is said that the love of the parents "can never be compensated even if one were to carry one's parents on the shoulder without putting them down for a hundred or a thousand years" Hallisey Here, it is explained that the reason for filial piety is to show gratitude and attempt to repay one's parents for the tremendous amount of love and caring that they devoted.

The text also mentions more specific examples of how a child can show respect for his or her parents, such as bathing them and providing them with food and drink Although many Buddhist and Daoist texts support the idea of filial piety, their monastic intuitions lie in direct opposition to one of the main responsibilities of a filial child -- having a male heir in order to carry on the family name.

Precepts of the Perfect Truth Daoist Sect says that "All those who choose to leave their families and homes should join a Daoist monastery, for it is a place where the body may find rest" Both Daoist and Buddhist monks were required to leave their parents behind to live a cloistered life, an action that certainly does not concur with the concept of filial piety. Furthermore, they are required to remain celibate and can therefore not have any children. Without having children, one cannot have a male heir to carry on the family name. Because having a male heir is a core component of filial piety, a Buddhist or Daoist monk can not be a filial son.

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Brians, Paul. Washington State Univ. Hallisey, Charles. Donald S. Lopez, Jr. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press,