Harvard graduate preaches giving back to society on popular Chinese dating show

March 30, 2011Jing Gao9 Comments, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A young man from the United States named An Tian (安田) has inspired a country whose citizens are not typical generous givers, after he proclaimed on TV his ideal of ‘serving the people.’

Holding Bachelor’s from Harvard University, Master’s from Oxford University and a doctorate from University of California, Berkley in agricultural business, 28-year-old An Tian now works in an educational institution in China. He is of Chinese and Japanese descent and speaks fluent Chinese (with noticeable accent though). He went on stage and placed himself in spotlight in order to find a girlfriend.

If You Are the One, (Fei Cheng Wu Rao, 非诚勿扰) the most viewed dating show and one of the most popular TV shows in China, was once bashed for promoting materialism and money worship after several high-profile female candidates show a fetish of luxury goods and males flaunting wealth as bargaining chips. Ma Nuo, one female guest who appeared on the show, once infamously said, “I’d rather weep in rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle.” Even after China’s television regulatory body ordered heavy-handed control of dating shows and wipe-out of materialistic values, the show remains one of Chinese favorite for its unscripted slices of life as well as tantalizing drama.


If You Are the One, or Feng Cheng Wu Rao, produced by Jiangsu TV.

The moment the camera zeroed in on him, he was sitting on the ‘Love Lift,’ before he descended it. He did some funny dance, made faces and seemed to be on wires. The 24 single women as well as most viewers easily thought he was clowning for the crowd. If it were not for two TV hosts’ repeated suggestion that “Please be patient; the lunatic must have something unique about him,” most of the 24 lights would have been turned off, which would have eliminated him right away.

His debut on the show.
(Untranslated Youtube version) Notice the first one minute.

Youku version

Even after he moved on to the second round and his background was unfolded, several female candidates poured scorn on him, saying his hyperactive, unhinged state “made it look like a monkey show.” One even put very bluntly, “If people say I am emotionally unstable, they will know what a lunatic is like after they see him. I think if I look like an ET, he would be from outside the Milky Way Galaxy.”

An Tian luckily managed to keep two out of 24 women interested. In the last round, he was expected to “exercise men’s right,” which means he could finally take the initiative to pick. He asked the two women an interesting question, “If you won a 10 million U.S. dollar lottery tomorrow, what would you do with it?” Candidate No. 3 from Taiwan answered, “I would let my mother not do any work. I would bring her out and have fun.” Candidate No. 11’s answer was, “I would live the same way as I do today. There will be no change.”

On hearing these two answers, An Tian was visibly disappointed. He said, “You have just one single chance to spend that large amount of money. You either set up a private foundation or take care of orphans, those poorest people in the society. If I only gave you 1 million dollars, you can use that to buy a car or whatever. But it’s 10 million! So much money. I think it can absolutely go to a school and provide more scholarships. You must have the spirit of ‘Serving the people.’”

He also said it was Harvard University that taught him to give back to the society. “May I put that in English, ‘Enter to grow in knowledge, depart to serve better thy country and thy kind.’” He cited a motto well known at Harvard. “I can’t make any choice now (between the two women). I think ‘serving the people’ is still the most important thing. If you have money, how you are going to spend it, this is a question that you must, you must think about thoroughly. So, I am out,” He shook hands with one host before leaving the studio.

A video recorded afterwards projects a much more ‘normal’ An Tian. “I had two choices at the graduation from Harvard. One is to work for an investment bank, which pays a great deal. The other is to keep studying and be a professor. I have already given up on raking in money. Though (I am) not well-paid, the most important thing is to do good things. True love is unconditional. You shouldn’t try to change her into your ideal woman. So I feel truly sorry. You will definitely find a more suitable man.”

After the show was aired on Saturday evening, many net users said they had been deeply touched.

Comments picked from Sina

Chen Shu, a female actress, wrote in her microblog, “his ‘serving the people’ makes people think…It reminds me of the topic that has been the commonplace talk but never been thrashed over. Wish him good luck.”

ohohojg: (It’s) So beyond my expectation that this foreigner is very steadfast in his principles and values ‘serving the people’ so much.

飞飞侠子: An Tian is the male candidate that touched my heart most on the show If You Are the One.

OK金弋琳: My favorite male candidate on the show. Smart, candid, sincere, unaffected, warmhearted. What makes people think is the fact that ‘Serving the people’ came out from a Chinese American like him. And it sounded so serious and pious.

济沧海的微博: If You Are The One has let me know An Tian. An Tian has let me know the importance of giving back to the society! (I will) Remember it, try best to do it!

美美的图图: In particular, his cry for ‘serving the people’ at the end has stricken me hard. I suddenly recall an ABC (American-born Chinese) once told me that this is the way of thinking that Americans admire.

Le Jia, host/psychological analyst of the show, wrote in his microblog, “Students educated by evil capitalism say ‘Serving the people.’ Students educated by the grand socialism say, ‘Serving for Renminbi (Chinese currency, literally ‘the people’s money’). Why?’

鲁西鲁西西: China put forth the idea of ‘Serving the people,’ but now it is mentioned by an American…It is a vivid lesson for our countrymen.

shaunluo: His educational background has made him choose the values. This is where the success of the U.S. higher education lies. But our students would lay down their arms and surrender to interests without much hesitation.

Anonymous: Todays post-1980 and 1990 girls never had any taste of being an underdog in the society because of their good financial condition, so they have never thought about giving back to the society. This is the disappointment of Chinese education.

luotaol8: Actually, after I saw the video, I feel very ashamed of myself, because I can’t reach this state, nor do I have such a strong capability or lofty consciousness. While being poor, I can only make sure I myself am good.

黄瓜游侠: The gap between the U.S. and China’s younger generations is worrying.

5847786:I don’t know what ulterior motive or cultivation those people who accused An Tian of being a Japanese have. I only want to say four points, 1, An Tian’s father is a Japanese; his mother is a Chinese. He has U.S. citizenship. So An Tian is an American. What’s more, he was brought up in Hong Kong, so he is not a Japanese. 2, Even a person who cannot speak standard Mandarin knows the concept of ‘Serve the People.’ You would know if he is feigning it from his facial expression in the video. Let’s reexamine our hearts and ask ourselves, can we do that? I dare say that most detractors have never thought about the phrase, even though they may mention that quite often. 3, An Tian is an ordinary person, but he epitomizes something big, reflects the people educated by our education system, be them Ph.Ds, or post docs, only live for themselves. But according to Western education, it is for the society, for their country; they advocate a grateful heart and devotion, that saying ‘thank you’ to any favor, big or small. In comparison, there is no need to talk about the failure of the Heavenly Kingdom’s education system. 4, This is exclusively for those detractors: you ill-educated shallow people, how can a sparrow understand the ideal of a swan? You are not in the position to judge An Tian!

A small fraction of net users thought “An Tian was a little cruel. Where does he put No.3’s and No.11’s faces? People would say the two candidates do not have good morals, do not serve the people, so the male candidate would rather choose no one. He was very inconsiderate.”

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9 comments to “Harvard graduate preaches giving back to society on popular Chinese dating show”

  1. onceuponatime | April 24, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    ‘Enter to grow in knowledge, depart to serve better thy country and thy kind." is on a plague on the Dexter Gate at Harvard. On a stone above the gate facing the street is carved "Enter to grow in knowledge", and on the back side facing the campus, "depart to serve better thy country and thy kind."

    Telling that to the TV audience, most of whom have their minds set on money as the only measure of success and personal satisfaction, is casting pearls before swine, or as we Chinese would say, "对牛弹琴."

    • onceuponatime | April 25, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      Oops! Plaque, not plague!

  2. |= |=| | || E Z E | April 25, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    I think he is just pretending. I am a PhD candidate in chemical engineering, so in a few years, I will be his intellectual equal, perhaps higher due to my specialty being highly mathematical and technical. Therefore, I have the absolute right to judge him. It is those that support him that have questionable intellectual ability to do so.

    If he truly wants to serve the people, he should not be a US citizen. The US fights wars for resources and in the process kills millions. It is hypocritical to claim that he is "serving the people" while simultaneously being an associate of a murderous gang called the US army.

    Second, he is from Harvard. Harvard is not the typical US university. The typical US university graduate has far weaker fundamentals in theoretical knowledge than one from a Chinese university. I'd know, I've taught both.

    Third, he has done nothing concrete, so how can his supporters judge that he is sincere, and others are not? Being an associate of a mafia, I can't see how sincere he is, especially because he is an associate by choice and not by birth.

    • sinoamerican | November 22, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      1. You messed up with the concept “serve the people”. Your “people” only limits in “the people in China”. Why can a person who became a US citizen not able to serve the people? You’ve got a logic problem so that you may struggle hard to be a good engineer.

      2. No one in the world has a right to judge others. Please don’t try to put yourself in God’s position. You will be least credible to do so.

      3. What does your math level have anything to do with An Tian’s quality, and average US college graduates’ quality? Does it mean that your math is better than average US college graduates, and equal to that of An Tian so that you are as good as An Tian? Or does it mean that you can speak for the Chinese people? Are the girls in the show as good as you in math?

      4. An Tian might not have done anything to give but talk. You can say “talk is cheap” if you actually have given so much to the society. However, your saying that An Tian is associated with mafia is the most stupid gossip that actually devalues yourself to zero.

  3. didyoujustsaythat | June 11, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    PhD candidate:
    It is worrying to know that we have highly educated people who think like you. Being trained in mathematics or science does not make you superior to thinking in people who are trained in humanities, or even performing arts. A Phd does not award you the right to judge people. You have failed to understand the entire purpose of higher education.

    The wars that the US fights is the decision of the government and not its people. Assuming that you are a chinese citizen, can I say, that you are a total communist because you repress other people's thinking (because the chinese govt is known to censor press)? No, because it just doesn't make sense!

    Harvard, is ranked the number one university in the world. And this is the second point blank stupid comment you've made so far PhD candidate. As mentioned before, math ability does not make you the higher Man. There is so much more than life. Life is made out of math, science, the arts, sports, etc. There are specific ideals and ways of thinking that you learn from the different disciplines. And btw, I guarantee that you will fail in a undergrad humanities subject.

    Thirdly, I can't understand you anymore. So much for being a PhD student.

    • mike | May 21, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      You should be ashame of your comments. This prove although you hold a PhD or whatever, your degree earned is totally wasted. You only think for yourself, care for no-one and is one selfish baster. You are exactly the people ruining our educational system and ethics. This is why China is so screwed up with people like you. If I were your boss, I will FIRE you .

  4. Dando Z | July 14, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    "The typical US university graduate has far weaker fundamentals in theoretical knowledge than one from a Chinese university. I'd know, I've taught both."

    How utterly meaningless to speak of what's "typical" of students in institutions of higher learning. You're talking about the top 1% of China and the top 10% of America. Where are those advanced mathematical and technical skills now?

    I guess engineers are trained, not educated.

  5. fairfight | October 19, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Wow, what an arrogant person you are. Being skilled in math & technical area will make you as intellectual or even more intellectual than him? What a nonsense. You know what? In the end of the day moral value may talk more than your highly intellectual but shallow-thinking brain. Second, maybe it’s true that we can’t judge that he’s not sincere, but we can’t also absolutely say that he’s insincere just based on the fact that he’s an US citizen. Afterall, what is your position to judge him? Third, you said that Harvard has weaker fundamental in theoretical knowledge. Theoretical. Even if you are more intelligent than Einstein, if you fail in moral & integrity, you won’t gain any further respect. I may be impressed by your genius brain, but with no moral value, it’s useless.
    Lastly, with you saying that he is associated with mafia etc just makes me laugh so hard at how ridiculous you are.

  6. tardis slipper | February 4, 2013 | Permalink Reply

    What right does he have to tell the two women, much less an entire country, how they should behave? Because he’s born a man? Because he has a bloody PhD?
    As noble as his causes are, I cannot see how cultural bigotry will benefit… anyone. (apart from the unadulterated adulation he has, apparently, earned.) Taking the standards and ethical framework of the American culture, forcing it upon an entirely different culture and crying “Wrong!” when it does not fit — where does that make sense?

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