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  • Writer's pictureTingbin Tang

Gap between China and foreign countries is valuing people or machine

Beijing News: Gap between China and foreign countries is valuing people or machine

Tang Tingbin, an Overseas Returned Teacher, Stated in Article China Lacked Respect to Talents

June 17th, 2005 10:11

Behind Tang Tingbin are some art works with good modeling. Shot by Pu Feng, our correspondent

Character: Tang Tingbin

  He was born in 1977 in Hengyang, Hunan province. He is now a teacher in China Central Academy of Fine Arts. He graduated from Savannah Art and Design College.

Purpose of conversation:

On June 15th, 2005 Views column on A03 page of our newspaper published an article entitled An Overseas Returnee’ Confusion. The author is Tang Tingbin, an overseas returned teacher of China Central Academy of Fine Arts. In his article he says he came back to China with passion, but the cruel real life is confusing; university tuition increases year after year, but university teachers are fighting to eat.

For this, our reporter interviewed Tang Tingbin yesterday and discussed about the related problems.

The hard reality or sweet ideal now become the difficult problems in Tang Tingbin’s life. First, let's take a look at the overseas returned teacher’s description of current situation in An Overseas Returnee’ Confusion. Outsiders won't believe and we ourselves are also shy to say that the basic salary of the highest institution of Chinese art is only RMB1300. Plus fees for class, it is only about RMB2500. There is no housing distribution. Housing allowance in our contract is only RMB70.

Consumption is very high in Beijing. I first lived in a one-bedroom apartment. The monthly rent was RMB1500. Plus other expenses, I always live beyond my income every month. Now I have moved to outer suburbs. The rent decreases, but I have to spend 2 hours every day in the bus. I don’t know how long I can stick with this job

Domestic universities blindly increase enrollment. The quality of teaching declines. There are too many masters and doctors... Few people concentrate on academic research

  Overseas returned Tang Tingbin becomes a template who steps forward. It evaluates economic environment, value orientation and future direction of domestic universities education.


I went back to China because of idealism. The atmosphere of China Central Academy of Fine Arts is good

  Beijing News: I have read your articles. First of all, I want you to talk about the situation when you came back to China.

Tang Tingbin (hereinafter referred to as Tang): In October of last year, I returned to Wuxi to attend a industrial design week. After that I came to China Central Academy of Fine Arts for a lecture. And then I had a long conversation with Wang Min, Dean of Design College. He said he wanted to develop Transportation Design Major, and I was very interested. Last year I taught curriculum of this aspect for two months. After that I went back to America, and celebrated the Spring Festival in the United States. On March 3rd this year (I) officially came to China Central Academy of Fine Arts.

  Beijing News: You say your basic salary is only RMB1300. Didn’t Dean Wang talk to you about salary at that time?

  Tang: He said something about money. I did not know how this situation. In fact at that time I already knew the salary was very low. Last year when I taught here I obtained the same money. All the teachers of China Central Academy of Fine Arts have such salary, and there will not be special offer for me.

  Beijing News: Then why did you come back?

  Tang: Probably because of idealism. I think the atmosphere in China Central Academy of Fine Arts is good. I really have a sense of value. People sometimes live for value.

  Beijing News: How can you have this sense of value?

  Tang: In the past I was a designer. Every time when I completed the design works and it was approved, I would feel myself valuable.

  The school asks me to be responsible for the major of Automobile Technology Design. If I can develop the major, really change the present situation of China's automobile, the cars designed by me run on the road in the future, or my students’ cars run on the road, I think I'll have the sense of value.

  We received many years of education, but now we don't get respect we deserve

  Beijing News: Are the problems in your article specially for China Central Academy of Fine Arts?

  Tang: I think the present situation of domestic education is wrong. They recruit more and more students, and the quality of students is more and more poor. This is not for China Central Academy of Fine Arts. In fact I still have a certain space in China Central Academy of Fine Arts. My English is good. There is much international communication. Nearly every week I will receive international friends. I also invite see people in the American design circle for some exchanges.

  Beijing News: In China, which aspects can’t you fit in?

  Tang: There is still not enough respect to the labor force. When I repair my car in foreign countries, if the parts cost RMB100, he might charge me RMB600. The extra RMB500 is payment for a piece of handwork and workers' service fee. However, in China, he may charge me RMB105. RMB5 is service fee of worker. This is not the same, probably because there is too much labor in China.

  We are also senior intellecturals, and we have received many years of education. We invest so much money and time in education, but we don’t have so much money and don’t get the respect we deserve. In fact in foreign countries if my boss gives me a low salary, I'll turn against him, because he is insulting me in and he doesn't respect my labor.

  Beijing News: Do you worry about economy?

  Tang: In fact I still can support myself. Although now I can only earn less than RMB3000 a month, I can also write some books. Now I'm writing a textbook. Although the amount of distribution is not very big, I also can earn nearly twenty thousand yuan. Occasionally I may do some work. I don't fear that I will starve to death.


But in China there is no nationall health insurance. I have a large family, and my mother and stepfather have been laid off. My mother is not healthy. A lot of relatives are still in the countryside. I am afraid they get sick. My grandpa passed away last month. When he stayed hospital, I had to pay for it. I sent $1000 from abroad. They can use RMB8000. It can hold for a while, but now it is relatively difficult.

  Beijing News: Have you ever talked to Dean Wang about this difficult situation?

  Tang: He understands and we have ever talked about this. We are able to communicate. He can only say that we have to improve together. I hope that I can complete some of the projects well and have better cooperation and interaction with enterprises to give the school more income and improve teachers’ class fee. China Central Academy of Fine Arts is directly under the Ministry of Education. He also cannot change the basic salary, because the basic wage standard is determined by the state.

  In fact design spends a lot of money.

  In the foreign countries designing a model car could cost more than buying a car model, because they have sponsor of big enterprises. Chinese enterprises don’t have consciousness and tax policies supporting of this aspect.

  Teaching reform is good, but other measures shall keep up with

  Beijing News: How do you think of teaching reform of colleges and universities in China, such as system of employment under contract?

  Tang: Now teaching reform and system of employment under contract is good. It will help to increase the teacher's enthusiasm. But housing is canceled. After system of employment under contract is good is used, there is no housing, but the salary doesn’t increase. What about housing? Our housing allowance every month is only RMB70 dollars. Where can we rent the house? So now China's reform pushes everybody to the competition. This is of course good, but other measures have to keep up with, including housing and medical insurance.

  Beijing News: Do any friends around have your experience?

  Tang: As far as I know, many students come back from England, Australia and other countries, because in those countries it is difficult to find a job. But few really come back from the United State.

  Or they are sent back to China and get American wages. They live in China. This is of course very good. People who completely give up jobs in the United States and come back to obtain China’s payment I know is only Dean Wang. We are engaged in art and we are idealistic, but now realism is popular.

Gap between Chinese and foreign countries is valuing people or machine

  Beijing News: You seem to not so busy as your colleagues, right?

  Tang: They are all very busy. To be honest, if they work outside, in the United States they should be part-time teacher, because they don't have a full-time job. In the United States teaching is already busy enough. Few teachers work outside. According to this standard, only leaders are full-time. All the teachers in the university are part-time.

  Beijing News: Why do you think so many teachers can do a part-time job? Do you think this is because the teacher's are blundering or the society is blundering?

  Tang: I think if you choose to be a teacher, you have to work carefully. I think a lot of teachers are just like me. As long as life, food and clothing problems are solved, I wouldn't think about working outside. I will concentrate on academy. Actually it is not easy to teach a course well and you have to invest a lot.

  But there is no way. If they don't go to do part-time job, where does the money come from? Now the house is not assigned, they have to buy a house. Where does money required by a house come from? In addition, after I return back to China, I find that all the Chinese people are very worried and blundering. They will do everything to make money.


Beijing News: How big is the difference between domestic teaching hardware with those in foreign countries?

  Tang: I feel satisfied, although it still as gap with private universities in the United States. It is better than some public universities. This year we spent a lot of money to buy the machine tools.

  But I think the difference is whether people or machine is valued. In the foreign countries people are considered the most important, but in China there is no feeling. They will think a machine tool cost millions of yuan can be use for several years, but they don't know, a talent can be used for several decades.

  Beijing News: You think in China talents are not valued. Do you have this experience?

  Tang: China Central Academy of Fine Arts invites foreign teachers. There are also foreign faces. I'm sure their salary is higher than ours, and it must be calculated in dollars. In fact a foreigner usually needs a translator. Such cost is actually very high, but I think contribution made by them is not necessarily more than mine.

  Sometimes leaders found that some foreigners have limited ability, but they need them to impress others.

  Actually, except sent by company to China, these foreigners really love Chinese culture, or they cannot stay in their countries. They are not all real talents. Putting foreigners in important positions is bad for cultivation of domestic talents. Now China companies pay attention to foreign design staffs. This makes students studying design in China restless. They cannot see their own prospects.

  Also, domestic manufacturers do not like to use design of the Chinese people. For example, IDEO, America's biggest design company, designed models for a domestic mobile phone manufacturer. They paid 500,000 euros. However, RMB100,000 is enough for domestic Chinese design companies.

  Beijing News: It is a worshiper of foreign things?

  Tang: Perhaps. In fact we spend so much money to study abroad. Students who study design in China draw sketching and design with some similar softwares. However, why is our students' development not as theirs? Because everyone is blundering. The teachers are students are both blundering. The whole society is blundering.

  Students don't know what salary they can get in future. Salary of domestic designers is so low, and project cost is low. Teachers cannot feel at ease teaching.

  Interviewed and written by Guo Shaofeng, reporter of our newspaper

  Baidu returned overseas Chinese. There are about 126000 relevant web pages. Tang Tingbin, who is teaching in Central Academy of Fine Arts and graduated from Savannah Art and Design College, came back to China with enthusiasm, but the cruel real life makes people feel lost.

Source: Beijing News (editor in charge: Liang Ciaheng)

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