China’s Fan Bingbing: violates tax law, now grammar rules

Students given textbook example of how to write an error-free letter of apology to the nation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 1:39pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 October, 2018, 2:34pm

Chinese movie star Fan Bingbing, already under fire for tax evasion, is now being used as a textbook example on how not to write an apology letter.

A high school teacher in eastern China’s Zhejiang province took issue, not with the actress’ overdue taxes – for which she was detained and fined nearly 884 million yuan (US$129 million) – but for her violation of the rules of grammar in her apology.

In a statement on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, Fan apologised last week to her more than 62 million followers, writing she was “ashamed and guilty about what I have done”.

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing tells fans she is ‘ashamed, guilty’ as she gets US$129 million tax bill

Qiu Mingfeng, a Chinese language teacher at the Hangzhou No 2 High School, asked his 11th grade students on Tuesday to highlight punctuation and grammar mistakes in Fan’s letter.

“There are too many language errors in the letter that have prompted the ridicule of many netizens,” Qiu told Qianjiang Evening News.

“I immediately recognised 10 or so errors in the letter, so I decided the night before to use it as an example in class to allow the students to find bones to pick in it,” he said.

The students were reportedly excited by the task, given the high visibility and interest in Fan’s case. Among more than a dozen mistakes they highlighted were incorrect punctuation usage, such as using an enumerated comma instead of an ordinary comma, as well as improper word order.

In the sentence where Fan wrote that, without the Communist Party’s policies and support from the public, there “would be no Fan Bingbing”, students pointed out that the actress should have instead written “there would not be today’s Fan Bingbing”.

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At the end of Fan’s letter, where the superstar apologises to friends and family, students said the wording should have included a conjunction to clarify it was directed at both friends and family, and not the family members of her friends.

Qiu and his students also discussed the broader importance of paying attention to language errors, according to Qianjiang Evening News.

While some students argued that language is simply a form of expression and the writer could be forgiven for errors if the intended meaning was still conveyed, Qiu said formal statements should not contain such errors.

The school did not return requests for comment.