AsACC and CUSA hold a workshop illuminating societal issues in modern China

AsAAC and CUSA hosted a talk about experiences as a citizen in China. Students did an activity to understand how citizens are ranked and punished if they do not follow societal standards. (Nicholas Hampton/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut’s Asian American Cultural Center (AsACC) hosted a Conversation on China in collaboration with the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association (CUSA) on Nov. 7.

The workshop explored aspects of modern China, like social ranking through a points system and the leftover phenomenon that affects single women over 30, through interactive activities and discussion.

Program coordinator for AsACC and seventh-semester political science and accounting major Timothy Yang said he wanted attendees to learn something new that they might not otherwise have the chance to.

“We just want to enhance various students’ perspective(s) to maybe teach them something they aren't gonna learn in their classes,” Yang said.

In the first activity, students were separated into four groups and tasked with ranking six profiles on how trustworthy they seemed as well as how they could contribute to society.

The profiles ranged from a farmer in his 70s to a young single mother to a successful female doctor who was unmarried.

In the discussion afterward, the groups said they ranked the profiles based on their age, occupation, number of children and marital status. Facilitators from CUSA played devil’s advocate for the arguments students made for their rankings.

In the second part of the activity, the groups chose three of the profiles to have special social privileges, such as being able to get a loan or take out a mortgage more easily.

This activity was meant to illustrate a system in China that was first announced in 2014, where cameras in major cities record people committing minor crimes like jaywalking and analyze their faces, which are then put in a database.

This information would then take “points” off of their trustworthiness, barring them from purchasing plane tickets or taking out a loan or a mortgage.

The program is currently run by private businesses under city councils but is planned to be implemented nationwide by 2020, according to Business Insider.

After this activity, there was a discussion on whether the system is fair, whether it is an invasion of privacy and its potential benefits.

The next activity involved students randomly picking from a deck of cards and organizing themselves into different suites.

The diamond group represented the upper class and they were given dumplings, hearts represented the upper-middle class and they were given rice, spades represented the lower-middle class and they received crackers and the lower class was represented by clubs who received juice.

Yang said this was to illustrate the stark distinction of social classes in China.

The groups were told to pair up and those who did not have a partner were representing the leftover phenomenon which is “indicative of modern China,” Yang said.

The leftover phenomenon is when single women over 30 are seen as undesirable in Chinese society because of their age.

The speakers went on to talk about market-type settings where parents go to advertise their single children to be married.

CUSA member and third-semester environmental science major Mara Tu said the workshop made her think about issues facing China and how it relates to the U.S.

“It put things in perspective,” Tu said. “I liked having open discussions that intersected China and U.S issues with class, gender and income.”

Staff member of AsACC and first semester mathematics major, Angus Xie, said talking about these issues in an open forum isn’t very common in China, but it could provide useful perspectives there.

“If these kind of meetings were held in China it may change things,” Xie said. “It's good for us to reflect and move forward.”


Gladi Suero is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at gladi.suero@uconn.edu.