The book review section of People’s Daily Online posted a review (originally published in 大众日报) of a book entitled The Wonderful Chinese People (了不起的中国人), edited by Su Dong 苏东 and published by Zhejiang University Press. The book, according to a blurb, argues the unoriginal point that the real reason behind China’s “economic miracle” is that “the Chinese people are the most industrious and frugal, possess the most hardy spirit, are the most obedient and law-abiding; moreover, the Chinese people have a more overwhelming craving of wealth” (更迫切的对财富的渴望).
The review is subtitled “Are the Chinese all over the African continent?” The reviewer states that “no matter whether in terms of industry or economic brains, the Chinese have an overwhelming advantage” over Africans, who are “harder to get to work overtime than to ascend Heaven: even if you ask them to do overtime just for a few minutes, you have to pay them several extra salaries, otherwise they might sue you.” Yet the reviewer also opines that although the Chinese may be the most hard-working, they are not the most positive or optimistic people. Furthermore, in his view, ethnic Chinese, whether in China or elsewhere, are yet to catch up with their countries’ economic development: their personal behaviour (implying ethics and manners) is stuck at a third-world level.
This piece is only worth noting here because it signals that the familiar discourses of social evolution and of “population quality,” along with fairly crude stereotypes, are alive and well even on such politically prominent sites as People’s Daily Online. So is the story of Liu Jianjun and his Baoding Villages, mentioned again in this review despite claims that it is no more than a hoax.