Angel by Day, Devil by Night: A Media Story - Part 1

The media are often said to have the role of supervising and monitoring the government.  But who is monitoring the media, known as the emperor without a crown?  These days, there are self-appointed Internet critics who challenge media accounts.  The following is an example.

On February 23, 2006, Southern Weekend published the article 'Angel by Day, Devil by Night' about a female school teacher who sold her body in order to meet family obligations.   An English-language translation has been made by Ramsi Woodcock at Press Interpreter.  Here is the opening section:

On New Year's eve 2006, 23 year old Xu Ping, a female village school teacher, looked around the table full of family members.

Xu Enhuai looked at the unusually mature face of his daughter and said something of deep significance to his three sons: "In the future, when life is good, you absolutely should not forget your older sister."

These words brought back the past four years' of bitter memories for Xu Ping. During spring festival 2002, when she became an adult, she went out secretly to sell herself in order to pay off the family debts and her brothers' tuition. From that time on, she taught school in the village from Monday to Friday and travelled to the city Saturday and Sunday to sell herself. It was not until two years later when the pressure of remorse, illness and injury were on the verge of destroying her that she ended her career as a prostitute.

At the end of 2005, Xu Ping contacted this reporter by email as well as began posting her story on internet forums like Tianya,, and Bihaiyinsha. She described the difficult road her heart had taken in its struggle between love of family and feelings of guilt.

These posts were closely followed by the public. Was she an angel or a degenerate devil? How can human beings behave so contradictorily? This reporter has opened an investigation of these questions.

In order to understand the ensuing discussion here, you should read the rest of the translated article.  Please pay particular attention to the plausibility of the details.

Now that you have read the original article, here are what the media critics are saying on the Internet.  This does not make these critics right, but it shows that there are people out there making critical readings.

(New Threads

[in translation]

Southern Weekend's teacher-prostitute story is a fabricated story.  By 万巍巍.

On February 23, Southern Weekend published a tragic story titled "Angel by Day, Devil by Night" about a kind-hearted woman who had to sell her body in order to support her brothers to attend school.  This story attracted the eyeballs and concern of many readers.  When I first read the story, I was reflective.  Yet, upon re-reading, I found that many of the "facts" in the report could not withstand scrutiny.  This has caused me to lean towards thinking that this was a totally fabricated story.

The reasons why I think this is a fabricated story are as follows:

(1) The report did not provide any details about the background of the principal character, such as the location.  Of course, we understand the need to protect the reputation and privacy of the related individuals.  But the problem is that according to the reporter Fu Jianfeng, the character "Xu Ping" was the one who requested to be reported about and she did not mind disclosing her real identity.  Prior to the publication of this story, a number of websites had already published her "tragic life story."  Under these circumstances, what is the purpose of concealing her true identity?

(2) On one hand, the reporter concealed the true identity of "Xu Ping."  On the other hand, Southern Daily Group's website has published the bank account for donations to "Xu Ping."  What is the purpose of this opaque method of donating money?  What guarantee does Southern Weekend have that this was not a scam?

(3) In the report, everything related "Xu Ping"'s prostitution and sexually transmitted diseases came from "Xu Ping"'s personal account without any investigation by the reporter.  Is this type of story trustworthy?

(4) There are many details in the report that do not withstand scrutiny.  Here are some examples:

The report began as follows: "On New Year's eve 2006, 23 year old Xu Ping, a female village school teacher, looked around the table full of family members ..."  This is a full live report, but did the reporter actually witness it?  On the basis of the full report, it is for certain that the reporter did not witness it.  If he did not witness it, then he has constructed a false eyewitness account, and this is unacceptable journalism.  (If this is reportage literature, then such an "imagined reality" might be acceptable)

The report claims that the "Xu" family has three sons, one in university, two in middle-school and "the tuition is at least 20,000 RMB per year."  Is that true?  Based upon my understanding, a university student may pay tuition as much as 10,000 RMB per year.  So the two middle-school students have to pay 10,000 RMB per year (or 5,000 RMB per person).  In an impoverished area, what kind of middle school demands the students to pay 5,000 RMB per year in tuition?

The report claims that the "Xu" family "took out a high-interest loan of 140,000 RMB from the local 'Rural Village Foundation' in order to purchase a truck" to transport bananas.  According to what I know, a very good truck costs less than 100,000 RMB, and even 50,000 RMB will buy a good truck.  Then why did the "Xu" family need 140,000 RMB to buy a truck?  (140,000 RMB can buy a heavy-duty coal-hauling truck, but that obviously was not needed to haul bananas).

Concerning the matter of the truck: The report claims: "The high maintenance fees and three car accidents thoroughly ruined this rural farmer who had no ability to withstand adversity."  The writer should explain what "maintenance fees" and "car accidents" caused the Xu family truck not to generate profits.  According to what I know, transportation is a profitable business in general.  Why did the "Xu" family truck have such a sad story?

More about this "local 'Rural Village Foundation'":  since this involves high-interest loans, I hypothesize that this is an illegal private loan organization.  But the report also claimed that the 140,000 RMB loan has still not been repaid as of today; furthermore, the debt has now gone up to 200,000 RMB.  My question is: Is it possible that an illegal lender would allow the vast sum of 140,000 RMB to go unpaid for more than a decade?  Are there such generous high-interest lenders?  Could the Huang Shiyan's of today be charitable leaders?

More about this high-interest loan: Since it is a high-interest loan, it has to be an illegal private loan.  But the report claims that "before the Chinese New Year in 2002, the Foundation pressed on the loan and asked the court to take over their family house."  We know that the law protects private loans, but it will not protect any illegal private loans (especially high-interest ones).  So on what basis did this "Rural Village Foundation" ask the court to enforce the debt repayment?  Was this court supporting high-interest loans?  Furthermore, court orders are issued only after civil cases are processed.  Does this not mean that the so-called "Rural Village Foundation" had sued the "Xu" family and then won in court?  (If the local court really protected the high-interest lenders, then I recommend Southern Weekend reflect this situation to the Supreme Court in order to sanction the local court).

The report claims that "Xu Ping" only managed to sell her body for 300 RMB the first time.  Is this credible?  Based upon all the reports on the Internet, virginity is worth a few thousand RMB no matter what.  Did the desperately needy "Xu Ping" not care about money?

The report describes a decent-quality man who loved "Xu Ping" and bought her "cakes, red wine, roses and a gold ring."  But "Xu Ping" took those gifts and still continued her prostitution.  From this, it would seem that her life of prostitution was not forced by circumstances.  This particular detail is inconsistent with the main theme hyped by the reporter about being forced into prostitution due to poverty.

Of course, there are other details.  On the Internet, I read the "auto-biography" of "Xu Ping" and it mentioned her Buddhist faith.  In the Southern Weekend article, there came Christianity and "Xu Ping"'s solemn thoughts on heaven and hell.  Is this to say that before meeting the Southern Weekend reporter, "Xu Ping" has already forgotten about her previous inner struggles?  At this time, I must say that I admire the creativity of the reporter.

In summary, I believe that there are too many contradictory details in this Southern Weekend article.  It was just too obviously fabricated, and it basically has no credibility.

These days, certain media can publish anything in the name of making money.  In order to preserve their 10,000 plus RMB monthly salary, the Southern Weekend reporter fabricated a "shocking" tragic story and his motivations are not hard to understand.

Here is another one:

(New Threads)

[in translation]

Also about the numerous flaws in the Southern Weekend teacher-prostitute story.  By 龙年.

Unverified matters should not be published as news.

First, how big is Lianjiang City?  This is a county-level city.  It is not like Beijing with so many counties and districts that one cannot go from one end to the other end in one full day.  This place has its own dialect and there are some special local characteristics.  If she goes into the city to sell her body, everybody will know her in a year or two.  Won't the students run into her?  Won't the students' parents run into her?  If she goes to the places of ill-repute in this small city at night, won't the students see her?  Wouldn't they look at her with suspicion?  How can she keep this a secret?

If she sells her body and nobody knows her, who is going to offer good money for her?  If she is famous, then all the patrons will look for her (this is a natural interest) and then they will find out about her.  She can get a better price if she says that she is a teacher and a lower price if she says that she is a peasant.  But then, she will expose her identity.

This whole story is illogical, and it is also unverifiable.

I know that when a Dalian girl wants to sell her body, she goes to Guangzhou.  I have never heard anyone selling themselves in front of their homes.  Only in places like Guizhou where they don't think this is shameful will they sell their bodies in front of their homes.

Therefore, this affair does not fit with the logical rules and it is not consistent with the unwritten rules of prostitution.

Secondly, it was claimed her young brother is at the Dalian Technological University.  But this university accepts only 15 students per year from Guangdong and there has never ever been anyone from Lianjiang city.

Thirdly, all the things about her is based upon what she said.  I can say that Dalian girls Zhang Ziyi and Qin Hailu all like me too, but I turned them down.

Fourthly, if I have kids at her school, I would transfer them away immediately!  If they stay, they would be learning how to sell their bodies from her!

Fifthly, did she not say that someone who is the age of her father liked her and wanted to get married immediately!  Why should you care whether he is a bigamist or not!  Just be careful afterwards and have fewer children (best not to have any)!  If the children are born with sexually transmitted diseases, then would be bad; if there are too many children, the girls would have to sell their bodies too!

"I am an elementary school teacher.  I am twenty-three years old.  I graduated from middle school in 2001 and then I joined the education sector by become a substitute teacher . At the time, the monthly salary was 300 RMB, except it was not issued on a regular basis.  Although the amount was small, I enjoyed the work and I wanted to become a teacher ever since I was very young.  My parents are farmers.  My three younger brothers are students.  The family economic situation is not good, so all my salary was turned over to my parents.  During the Chinese New Year of 2002, I encountered a pimp by chance and I began to work as a "miss" because I needed more money to pay for the tuition fees of my younger brothers.  At the time, my younger brother was just admitted into the Dalian Technological University where the tuition was more than 10,000 RMB per year.  My two other younger brothers are in middle school."

She is twenty-three years old now.  During the Chinese New Year of 2002 four years ago, she was 19 years old.  At the time, her younger brother was admitted to Dalian Technological University.  Since there were no Spring admissions, he must have made it in 2001 where he was 18 years old (or 19 years old).  If he were younger, then he must be a genius.  He qualified in 2001 and so he is either 19 or 20 by 2002.  This is her younger brother?  Are they of the same age?  Or because her mother gave birth after only a six-month pregnancy period?

Her two other younger brothers are in middle-school.  Middle-school students typically enter at 16 and graduate at 19.  It is possible to be just a bit younger by entering elementary school at 6 and going into middle school at 15.  But this is past the Spring Festival, so they are one year old (that is, 16 and 17 years old).

So, her mother had four children in a row at age 16 (or 17), 17 (or 18), 18 and 19.

Is that possible?

Generally speaking, women do not get impregnated while they are nursing their children.  Exceptions are very rare.  So this woman, who is the mother of the teacher-prostitute, can have consecutive pregnancies over four years.  Do the laws of nature not apply to her.

How can this fabricated story be written?

Here is a reaction to the preceding post:

(New Threads)

What did people think when they read the following paragraph:

I know that when a Dalian girl wants to sell her body, she goes to Guangzhou.  I have never heard anyone selling themselves in front of their homes.  Only in places like Guizhou where they don't think this is shameful will they sell their bodies in front of their homes.

I ask the author that since you said that "Unverified matters should not be published as news," then when you claim that "only in places like Guizhou where they don't think this is shameful will they sell their bodies in front of their homes," how did you arrive at that conclusion?

"Only in Guizhou" means that nowhere else in the whole nation would people sell their bodies in front of their homes?  I don't know how you came to that conclusion?  Did you check out all the places that facilitate prostitution around the country?  Personally, I feel that this is your prejudice against Guizhou.  Many of us have encountered all kinds of regional or sexual discrimination, but the law cannot afford to help all those being discriminate against under all the situations.  As a civilized society, cultural psychology and public opinion are the best protection against discrmination.  We need to ask ourselves all the time if our alertness against discrimination have fallen asleep.  Have we chosen to be silent when we should be supporting those who are being discrminated against.

"Discrimination" is a term that should not appear in any social domain, because we are all equal, we should understand each other and we should respect each other.  Prejudice and discrimination can occur anywhere in soceity, and we need to eliminate them by working hard together.

And now for the best part: Angel by Day, Devil by Night: A Media Story - Part 2 in which Southern Weekend reporter Fu Jianfeng tells us about what actually happened during the investigation.


   《一名23岁乡村女孩子的真实故事 》
  我是一名乡村小学教师,今年23岁。2001年中专毕业,就参加教学工作做了一名代课老师,那时候的工资是每个月300块,而且是不按时发放的。虽然钱是很少,但是我很喜欢这份工作,而且做老师是我小时候的理想来的。我父母是种田的,有三个弟弟读书,家庭经济情况不是很好,所以我的工资都是上交给父母。 02年春节的时候,一个偶然机会,我认识了一个拉皮条的,就出来做小姐了,因为我需要更多的钱给我弟弟读书,当时大弟弟考大学考上了XX理工,一年都需要一万多,而且还有两个弟弟正读高中。父母的担子很重,我这个做姐姐的应该为家里面分担一些担子。所以平时星期一到五我就在农村里给学生上课,周末就跑出城市里面卖淫。我不是一个天生下来就做鸡的人,可是为了家人我逼不得已这样生存,心理面很矛盾也很痛苦,经常担惊受怕,也常做恶梦,梦见自己是怎么死的。每到暑假的时候也就是我最着急的时候,因为过完暑假,我需要很多的钱给我弟弟交学费,所以我压力很大,得不到解脱。
  而现在 能付出爱心就是福,能消除烦恼就是慧。或许人生在世就是一种修炼,只有看破红尘之后,才能大彻大悟
   1. 无论是以前的教办主任,或者是教育局的领导出书,下面的老师都必须得捐款(最少100元)帮助印刷出版。他们好心的话,就会发一本回来给你,里面所写的内容无非就是一些他们的政绩,都是些垃圾作品,不值得一看。实质就是变相收刮钱财。我家里有一本,原XX镇教办主任XX出的《XXXX》,其他的只捐钱但没有书回来。
   2. 2005年9月30日,XX市做博物馆,在建到一半时,要求全市每位在职教师要捐款100元,不捐的要写申请,说出你不捐的理由。做博物馆是好事,这应该是市政府工程,市政府拨款,为什么摊牌在老师身上?全市一万三千位在职教师,按每人一百,就有一千三百万元了,多出来的钱那里去了?最令人心寒的是,建好后为什么关门大吉?难道只是一个摆设吗?
   3. 2005年11月上旬,XX市做生态公园,这也应该是属于市政府工程,为什么又要发动全市学生和教师捐款。可怜我的学生们,有些连鞋子都没有得穿,连笔都没钱买,谁由来捐款给他们呢?
   4. 南亚海啸捐款,这是全国性的,我所属的XX镇,每个教师规定要捐款100元,这我无话可说。捐款应该是属于自愿性质,现在领导把它变成了强行摊派,还指定了捐款的钱额,不捐的人还要打申请,还要领导批准才能免捐。
   5. 2005年12月14日,接到上面通知,修理XX(XX至XX)公路,这段路已经建好了一半。XX市政府和教育局发出通知说要扣领财政工资的教师一月份工资去修公路。我就纳闷,公路建设,省上面应该有拨款下来,有专门的资金去建设的啊。就算没有,每年所收机动车的路费和其他费用的钱都到那里去了?为什么动不动,就劳民伤财拿我们教师开刀?而且下面农村教师工资不高7001200左右,如果都扣去了,你叫老师拿什么来吃饭?怎么安心来上课?打平均每人一千元,那么就有一千三百万了,这段路也建好一半了,需要这么多的资金吗?苦工都是由我们来做,成绩你们来拿也就罢了,但你们怎么可以连口饭都不肯给我们吃呢?
   6. 再请看下某些公办教师,因为教师编制问题得不到解决,九月份至今四个月已经没有领过工资了,还得勒紧裤头给学生们上课。他们都没有工资领,市政府还得扣他们一个月工资去完成你们的政绩,请问这是什么世界?