China’s schoolchildren learn how to buy and sell stock

On December 9, 2010, a CNN Go Asia headline said, “Shanghai has the world’s smartest teens”.

If you heard the news of Shanghai students beating out 65 countries in student scholastic performance tests in three key categories of ability, the Al Jazeera English video embedded with this post may provide part of the answer of how that happened.

While many American students are applying makeup, drinking sodas, eating candy and french fries in class while texting friends and ignoring teachers let alone reading or doing homework, Al Jazeera reports of twelve year olds in Shenyang, China learning how to be stock brokers.

These students buy and sell and learn how to get the latest information on global stocks.

One Student, Ding Chuan, was asked how his investment portfolio (a class assignment where the students don’t actually buy stocks) was doing, and he replied that last year his investments hit 10,000. Now, his portfolio is at 20,000. He wants to be a millionaire when he grows up.

This Al Jazeera English news segment aired June 23, 2007.

Xiu Shu Jun, the headmistress for the school, says, “We decided to do it because we wanted to give the children a more realistic and practical financial education.”

Tony Cheng, the Al Jazeera reporter, says, “It is ironic that the largest Communist nation in the world has become obsessed with this capitalist pastime.”

Cheng says, “Stock trading goes against about every principal Chairman Mao stood for, and he would be pretty horrified to learn that there are now more registered (stock) traders in China than there are members of the Communist Party.”

Mao’s statue in Shenyang is surrounded by banks. After all, Tony Cheng says, today to be rich in China is glorious.

I say, What Tony Cheng doesn’t tell us is when Deng Xiaoping came to power by arresting those that would have continued the Cultural Revolution, China’s central government repudiated revolutionary Maoism and launched a Chinese style of socialist-capitalism.

Meanwhile, outside school, China’s citizens are buying stocks hoping to get rich quick.

However, some Chinese are learning the hard way that what goes up also goes down.  Investing in a capitalist stock market is like riding a roller coaster and life savings may vanish in a day if the investor isn’t cautious.

Discover China’s PISA Pride


Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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