Hongbao Fantasy

I originally found this video introduced by a Chinese friend on Kaixin Wang as “a Chinese film way more fantastic than Avatar”:

Transcript for the students:

> 老师:你的孩子又考了全班第一。

> 家长:谢谢谢谢。(递红包)

> 老师:你在伤害我。

> 医生:好了,病人终于脱离危险了。

> 家属:谢谢谢谢。(递红包)

> 医生:你在侮辱我。

> 官员:你的审批手续全办好了。

> 商人:谢谢谢谢。(递红包)

> 官员:你在藐视我。

> 警官:恭喜你啊,考试通过了。

> 司机:谢谢谢谢。(递红包)

> 警官:请你尊重我。

> [source (with additional sarcastic commentary)]

The video is a public service message urging people not to accept hongbao (red envelopes full of money) for what they should be doing anyway for the good of society. (And apparently that idea is still rather outlandish in modern China.) Anyway, the video does a good job of educating us foreigners in what situations Chinese people typically give their “thank you notes”:

– A teacher tells a mother that her child is the top student in the class
– A doctor informs someone that his family member is no longer in danger
– A government official announces that a businessman’s procedure is complete
– A police officer announces that the student has passed his (driving) test

I know some students of Chinese that spend a lot of time on Chinese news websites. I’m finding that Kaixin Wang‘s 转帖 (“repost”) system is way better, acting as a combination RSS reader / Digg / SNS site (so the content is filtered by your young Chinese friends). I highly recommend it as a source of interesting material.

Apparently, though, some of the posts (like the one I refer to above) mysteriously disappear… so read quickly, and enjoy!


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. I thought the order was usually the other way round, i.e. give the red envelope before the operation.

  2. Todd:
    that’s just what I wanted to say.

  3. Yeah, that’s a good point…

    Don’t ask me; I didn’t direct it! 🙂

  4. I once supervised a master thesis project from a Chinese student. She got a good grade – and deservingly so. But afterwards (the grade was already official) she wanted to give me a present. It was chocolates meant as a thank-you gift – but I refused. She bursted into tears.

    Very uncomfortable situation.

  5. My son had to have an aneurysm removed from his back when he was 6 months old ,we travelled from 鬆溪 to 南平 because i felt the hospital treatment would be better. After a succesful operation and a two week hospital stay my wife gave the surgeon 20,000 rmb,i was gobsmaked and a little insensed.My wife only told me after the fact,,,,a good choice on her part.

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