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Rebuild public trust

Updated: 2014-02-20 10:07
By Xin Zhiming (

Chai Jing, a celebrity China Central Television (CCTV) presenter, reportedly was found to have given birth to a daughter in the United Stateslast year. It has aroused heated debate in China, something that can serve as a mirror for us to observe the changes in Chinese society.

Each year, thousands of rich Chinese migrate to other countries, mostly the developed countries. Meanwhile, given US law that a child born in the US has US citizenship, many Chinese couples who cannot migrate manage to fly to the country to give birth there so that their children can be local citizens.

But for many people staying behind, such an exodus is a de facto vote of non-confidence in their home country, where the economy is expanding fast but problems remain. They often criticize those emigrants of being unpatriotic.

Against that backdrop, it is no surprise Chai, a successful anchor and reporter-turned author, becomes highly controversial this time. Her status as a public figure from the State-owned CCTV, in particular, has added oil to the fire.

Chai is not the first celebrity to be censured for similar reasons. For example, Yao Ming, the renowned basketball star and former NBA player, made a stir in the Chinese media for his decision to have his daughter born in the US. Some movie actors, actresses and directors have also been questioned for their decision to obtain a foreign citizenship.

If we take those cases to look at the evolution of Chinese society, we can at least come to two conclusions.

One is that Chinese society is becoming more open and tolerant. It is true both Chai and Yao have been accused of being unpatriotic by some people, but meanwhile, a large number of people understand their decisions, saying it is primarily a matter of their personal choice and others should not interfere. Moreover, as a comment in the Beijing News said, where to give birth to her child is, in the first place, Chai’s right, which should override other considerations.

If it happened ten or twenty years ago, there could still be people who supported Chai’s decision, but the number would have been much smaller.

Thanks to the rise of the Internet and new net technologies in recent years, public debate and discussion have become more thorough, which sows the seeds for a higher level of social tolerance built on information disclosure and the exchange of thoughts and ideas.

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