The Death Of The Teacher-Prostitute

(Zhengzhou Evening News via Wenxue City)

[in translation]

Recently, a post titled <Memorial Meeting For The Prostitute> drew public attention at the various big forums around China.  The central character is a pretty female teacher who prostituted herself in order to raise money on behalf of education.  After her death, her students held a press conference for her.

Here is the gist of the story of Yin Caixia.  She was born in a rural village in Kansu province.  Due to family poverty, she dropped out after second year high school.  When she found out that a local private elementary school was short-handed, she offered her services there to teach for free.  On the first time that she entered the classroom, the students blushed because they had never seen a teacher as pretty as this one.

After the grass shed which served as the classroom was toppled over by high winds, Yin Caixia went to the Ministry of Education to ask for money.  She even offered her body.  The school principal went to the Ministry of Education more than a dozen times afterwards but did not get a single cent.  He was aware of what Yin had to do to try to get the money.  When Yin saw that the money was not going to come this way, she became a professional prostitute and sent all her earnings back to the school principal.  In accordance with the wishes of Yin, the school principal spent the money on improving the school infrastructure.  When asked about the source of the money, the school principal merely said that it was donated.  On the twentieth month of her alternate career, teacher Yin passed away.  The school lowered the state flag to half mast ....

This story was tremendously moving for some netizens, who called it "very touching."

On December 3, 2007, an Internet writer named Zhang Huaijiu wrote on his blog about this story.  First he repeated the story above.  As supporting evidence, he included two photographs.  One of these photographs is genuine, with a student holding a banner: "Teacher Yin, we love you." 

But teacher Yin was named Yin Xuemei and here is her real story:

"At noon of March 31, 2005, the Southern City elementary school in Jintan city, Jiangsu province organized the students to go see a traditional revolutionary educational film.  As the students crossed the street, a car came speeding along.  52-year-old female teacher Yin Xuemei pushed six students off to the roadside but she was hit by the car and flew 25 meters down the street ..."

Who is Zhang Huaijiu?  On his QQ, he lists the slogan: "Internet marketing, event hyping, crisis management, public relations, merchandise promotion, issue creation, Internet rights defense, ... we will do anything and everything possible to create an Internet legend for you." 

... Zhang said: "I want to clarify to the media.  The story about the memorial meeting for the teacher-prostitute has even reached the north American and European forums.  It is a public interest campaign that I am doing for the poor schools in the mountainous western region.  As a Chinese person with a conscience,  I want to call the people's attention to education in western China.  As an individual, my means are limited.  So I created a touching story to motivate people to take action.  Although this has created many doubts and controversies, all of that is not important.  The important thing is that my essay has caused certain western mountainous region education departments to allocate funds to the impoverished schools.  I am very grateful and that is enough for me.  As for the vicious rumors and insults, I will ignore them with a laugh, because those people failed to understand why and what I wrote."

During this interview on January 7, Zhang added: "More than half of the information on the Internet is false.  Actually, it does not matter whether they are true or false.  The important thing is just what the Internet media bring us, whether they it can promote social harmony and whether it helps unity and progress."  Zhang did not believe that his "story" could hurt real people in their real lives.


Question: As a renowned Internet writer in China, how would you define your works?

Zhang: My initial works emphasized people's livelihood and social ills.  I insisted on telling the truth every day and I touched a lot of people.  My latter works were about my search for a breakthrough in Chinese vanguard literature to come out of the doldrums of traditional Chinese literature.  This caused people to call me a "writer."  I don't like this title, because I think that China did not have any writers for the past half century.  But now people are calling Zhang Huaijiu a smart Internet promoter or a master of hyping.

Question: Is it a contemporary fashionable thing to use sensationalism to raise one's profile?  What are the practical implications for society of such hyping?

Zhang: It was not my purpose to raise my popularity.  I want people to pay more attention to my work and their inner ideas and spiritual content.  I used to be in the advertising business, and I want to inject my ideas into cases of marketing through the Internet platform.  I want to make money while purifying the Internet.  Using sensationalistic methods or subjects is just one way of Internet promotion.  No matter whether you are promoting a concept, product or event, you need an eyeball-attracting headline, as long as your content is reflected by the headline.

Question: What is your view on social responsibility on the Internet?

Zhang: The Internet is a virtual society with all sorts of people living in it.  Because of the differences in topics and ideas, people have different actions and reactions.  Some people are fooling with the Internet, while others are fooled by the Internet.  The Internet media give people speech rights as well as social influence.  Apart from the websites, the Internet users must assume more social responsibility themselves.

Question: Among social justice, the law, truth and hyping, which do you regard as more important?

Zhang: Above all, do not break the law.  Truthfulness is unimportant in a literary work, even though some media may treat a fictional story as news.  Fairness?  I have never held any illusions about that.  Hyping includes malicious hyping, pointless hyping and commercial hyping.  Netizens, business people and literati have different needs for them.  Personally, in my works, I value the literary value and social significance more, and the Internet hyping effect is less important.