Chinese school criticised for ‘feudal’ behaviour after pupils kowtow to their parents

  • Thousands of teenagers filmed kneeling before their parents and touching their heads to the floor in traditional gesture of respect or subservience
  • School insists pupils organised Confucian ritual themselves after facing online backlash
PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 6:02pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 8:20pm

A school in central China has been accused of “backwards” thinking after holding a mass kowtow ceremony for high school pupils to “express gratitude” to their parents.

The event was held on Monday in Qinyang, a city in Henan province, to mark the 200-day countdown to the gaokao, China’s university entrance exam, Sina News reported.

In a video uploaded to Chinese video-sharing site Pear Video, 2,000 teenagers can be seen kneeling in front of their parents and touching their foreheads to the ground, the traditional Chinese ritual to show respect or subservience.

Some of the parents were seen wiping away tears, although others appeared awkward.

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However, the event has prompted criticism from many on social media, with commenters saying that showing gratitude should be done through concrete action, rather than through “traditions from the feudal era”.

“I took part in an event like this when I was in school and my parents kept teasing me afterwards,” wrote a user on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

The school claimed it had no prior knowledge of the event and said it had been organised by the senior class.

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The ritual of kowtowing to one’s parents and elders was a large part of Confucian philosophy, which dominates Chinese culture.

However, much of this was swept away after the Communists came to power, with all elements of traditional culture being targeted during the Cultural Revolution.

Today, kowtowing is mostly done to show respect to deceased family members, or by children during the Lunar New Year holiday before receiving red packets from their elders.

In 2007, a university in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan, was criticised for telling students to kowtow to their parents during the winter holidays, Henan Business Daily reported.