Desks & Watches: China’s Poor Carry Desks, While Bureaucrats Wear Rolex

Wang Ziqi’s grandmother is carrying his desk on her shoulders


In Hubei Province, local villagers near Macheng city need to bring a desk for their children for the first day of school. The cash-strapped rural school has no budget for furniture. The photo above was one of a series that made headlines around the world. (See China Smack for the story.)

In China the same images were carried and led to outrage. China has undergone tremendous economic transformation that has seen millions lifted out of poverty. Yet the government’s investment in rural education has been slow to catch up. Hence the reason villagers need to bring a desk for students to use.

This all took place in Hubei Province in Central China. The capital is Macheng City.

Hubei Province in Central China


Meanwhile the local party secretary for Macheng City, Yang Yao, has been photographed wearing a number of luxury wristwatches. The offices for the local bureaucrats are ultra-modern. They are nicknamed the White House of Macheng. The building is large for a local city province.

The White House of Macheng


As an act of contrition, Mancheng Province sent school furniture to the small school-house where previously students sat at home-made desks. The sole teacher for the country town said he was pleased with the delivery of new desk sets:

“It’s always been a dream for parents to see their children sit behind suitable desks at school,” said teacher Zhong Fuhai

For those interested in making a difference in rural education in China, there is a charity established by Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan. Called The Dragon Heart Foundation, the goal is to builds schools in remote areas and gives aid to the elderly and handicapped. The Dragon Heart turned one classroom around – see the before and after photos below:

Chinese school room – Before and after


It’s a notable improvement and much more that has been accomplished by Yang Yao, party secretary of Macheng city in Hubei Province. Yao, in his defence, did reply that he only wears a Longines quartz watch despite the photos to the contrary. Yao – look at your watch. Is it time for school?


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