Beijing’s suburban county to build a billion-dollar English-only European town

December 16, 2011Jing Gao9 Comments, , , , , , ,

From Beijing News

Miyun county, situated at northeast Beijing, is going to invest more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) on the construction of an English-speaking town as large as 60 hectares (165 acres) where no Chinese is allowed, according to county chief Wang Haichen.

“It is a significant development project with the nature of a tourist attraction,” Wang said yesterday at the county’s Fifteen People’s Congress, a government meeting. The English town with European architectural style is expected to give visitors a feeling of going abroad. “The town will be divided into 16 city block. It is a walled castle,” Wang said.

Photo of Miyun County Chief Wang Haichen at the party meeting. The news headline reads, Miyun to build an English-speaking town; “No Chinese.”

Visitors will need a passport which has to be stamped upon entry into the city. After they get inside, “speaking any Chinese will cause one to get penalty points.”

Wang’s announcement of his county’s behemoth effort to promote the English language and lifestyle has provoked a great deal of backlash and unsurprisingly, scoffs, from netizens. “So Miyun is about to build the country’s largest English Corner?” “Don’t end up despising yourself.” “I wonder if foreign guests who speak German and French would protest?”

Selected comments from Sina Weibo (973 comments and 1,597 retweets at press time)

李磊的微博的小屋:Have money to burn. If you have 10 billion, why don’t you purchase school buses for pupils and high school students, provide free lunch, build nursing homes for widowed and lonely elderly, and provide free health care to people in Miyun County? Why build the f**king English-speaking town?

家在林海:The creativity knows no bounds when it is about the land and public funds. He can even come up with such an idea. What a talented county chief!

梦见镜花缘:F**k, another brainless person at a high position!

熱血廢人微博达人:Feels like a reenactment of “No dogs or Chinese allowed”…

桃桃的保镖:Seek independence! The country name: The United Kingdom of Great Britain, Northern Ireland and Miyun County.

自由單車:To facilitate Chinese people’s going abroad, we have to learn English; to facilitate foreigners’ coming to China, we still have to learn English. Now English is even taught in kindergartens. Does it work? Why can’t foreigners be required to learn Chinese? Isn’t “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” always on our lips?

wangluozhu:What about establishing a virtual country on Weibo that observes European and U.S. democracy and law?

sowhat最紧要开心:An uneducated official is more formidable than a ghost.

LudyLu:This news sounds as hokum as a rumor.

水仙姐姐888:Officials everywhere keep up with the Wangs and churn out novel ideas. In order to get promotion, make a fortune, and create political achievements, they can even abandon their ancestors.

殷勤活宝:This is unconstitutional. Is speech free on the Chinese land? Now even languages have to be regulated with a strong-arm policy.

小果子Jacqueline:Gonna say to him (in English): fuck off

自留山微博达人:Actually in Continental Europe, only foreigners speak English. Each country speaks its own language. Those who speak English are aliens and will be brushed aside. Only in UK do people speak English.

胡兆峰:What a xehophile with the look of a slave! Our revolutionary martyrs finally chased away the devils in the foreign-run concessions with great difficulty, and now some people can’t wait to build a concession voluntarily and pretend to be a foreign devil.

快乐微言2011:It seems no matter how much money they have, they will not spend any on (improving) people’s livelihood.


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9 comments to “Beijing’s suburban county to build a billion-dollar English-only European town”

  1. FRENCHGUY | December 16, 2011 | Permalink Reply

    In mainland europe ( excepted scandinavian countries maybe) , if you want to go to university or find a decent job ( i don’t talk about working in a chinese restaurant), you have to speak the local language.

    Learning two foreign languages is compulsory to pass your highschool exam in France, you can also choose to learn a third one like japanese or chinese….

    You should only deliver work permits to people who have some skills in Chinese.

    • Adam | December 19, 2011 | Permalink Reply

      Oh man that would result in quite the slew of cancelled visas, deportations and angry Chinese HR managers forced to compete even more aggressively as the demand for foreign labor already exceeds the supply.

      I had a head hunter call me 6 months ago with a job offer that I refused, she called again last month with a salary package more than twice as large – they weren’t able to find anyone and started getting desperate. I can only imagine the lengths companies would go to if the majority of candidates couldn’t get visas due to language difficulties.

      • Adam | December 19, 2011 | Permalink Reply

        Let’s face it – no foreigner is ever going to be working at a competitive advantage if Chinese language skill is a major factor. That keeps expats typically pigeon-holed to specific roles and in positions where they offer real value and expertise. You eliminate the top 0.1% of expats who speak Chinese and you have yourself thousands of people that no matter how functional their Chinese will be will never be on par with a local and always run into language problems along the way.

        I understand what the French guy is trying to argue but it is just not representative of reality. Nor do I believe for 1 second that he is capable of communicating as effectively in Chinese as another Chinese person would be. Maybe he should be the first to board a plane home under his own logic.

  2. [...] of Tofu translated a news story about a billion-yuan construction plan of an English-speaking town as large as 60 [...]

  3. [...] Beijing’s suburban county to build a billion-dollar English-only European town | Ministry of Tofu … – [...]

  4. Guy In China | January 16, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Totally true – “the world’s largest English corner”. I would love it if a non-English speaking country suddenly took over the world and China suddenly had to start obsessing over another language. The obsession with learning English, despite the fact that most people will never have to use it is crazy.

    I think learning a language is good for two things 1. A personal hobby, 2. A practical skill. I don’t how many people ask me to teach them English, and I always ask them, “Why”. I get two responses. 1. The want to be prepared in case they meet a foreigner and want to talk to him/her and 2. It’s important. This just doesn’t make sense to me.

  5. Mateusz | February 4, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Thank you so much, Chief Wang. As a European in China, I don’t experience enough xenophobic racism already, so I appreciate you giving people another reason to hate us.

  6. neil humphrey | February 18, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    at 775m x 775m, is it more of a large village?

  7. Ota | October 10, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Well.. In my personal opinion, I agree that the world should have a universal language. A lot of other people who disagree probably lives in a place where foreigners, exchange students, contract workers, travelers, immigrants (illegal ones too lol) come. Well I live in one of those places and with the world becoming global, its crucial for people to understand each other through communication. And let’s face it, Chinese is one of the most difficult language to master in terms of reading and writing. English is difficult in its own way, but at least it’s easier to read word by word and find its meaning.
    A lot of people say that when you go to that country, you should know their language. Well how much is a person willing to learn just for a 1-2 week trip? Does anyone actually know how hard it is to learn a new language? How many languages are there around the world and how long are we going to sacrifice to learn all those languages just to visit their country?
    I don’t really mind which language becomes the official “universal” language, but I definitely support a universal language.
    I think the main component people dislike about this idea is its radicalism and the strictness which I also disagree with. But there are places like China town where a lot of people there speak mainly Chinese. I hate when reverse racism takes effect and minorities treat majorities like crap. (btw, I’m a minority just for those who are going to complain.)

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