Start ‘Em Young

Dave Killion — June 6, 2012

I spent part of my university career studying Mandarin, and I still spend a little time each day trying to retain (and perhaps expand on) what I learned. Being at an elementary level, it’s not unusual to encounter nursery rhymes and songs. Just like the West, there is a collection of well-known tunes that almost every Chinese grows up singing. Unique to these songs is that the Chinese government promotes several of them as a means of inculcating particular values –


Here we have a song called Yi Fen Qian (One Penny). The gist of it is that a kid finds a Chinese penny (1/6 of a Canadian cent), and hands it over to a policeman, who nods approvingly. The kid goes away, giving the cop a cheerful ‘See you later!’ The whole thing is about as subtle as a hatchet murder.

There is no question in my mind that Chinese children singing songs is endlessly adorable, but I find efforts to indoctrinate youth pretty creepy. Too bad that sort of thing isn’t restricted to China.

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