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Dong Qing: Both Sides of the Camera
Text by Ru Yuan

 

May 28, 2008: Dong (right) and comedian Jiang Kun prepare for the press conference of the TV series Seven Days that Shook the World, which depicted the massive 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake. IC  44-year-old Dong Qing, with her new TV show Readers, has led a comeback of cultural TV programs across China. Through her show, Dong hopes to bring the almost-lost habit of reading aloud back into the Chinese public spotlight. IC

For the past few months, TV personality Dong Qing has been in the national spotlight across China thanks to her work on both Chinese Poetry Competition and Readers, two of the most popular cultural TV programs in China.

But Dong is not an overnight star by any measure. She has been working in the TV industry for more than two decades, during which time she has earned the respect and recognition of her colleagues and viewers alike. As so many people found out in recent months, this veteran is always working on offering new things to spectators.

 

Sweat and Tears

Dong was born into a family of university professors in Shanghai in 1973. She considers her parents to have been what people call “tiger parents,” especially her father. He was deputy editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province and advocated traditional and strict child-rearing.

“My father was very, very strict with me,” Dong recalled years later. When she was seven, she stayed with her grandparents most of the time and only joined her parents in the city when they were able to have her around. In contrast with many parents with only one child, Dong’s father assigned her lengthy task lists including household chores, a 1,000-meter morning jog and scholastic assignments such as copying Chinese idioms, poems, and essays. “I also received a reading list containing masterpieces such as Jane Eyre, The Lady of the Camellias, War and Peace and Dream of the Red Chamber,” she adds. “My father quizzed me to make sure I was seriously reading them. Today, I still feel like such ‘training’ is cruel to a kid, but I did benefit greatly from my dad’s parenting, which set a solid foundation for my further studies and work.”

“Feeding without teaching should be blamed on the father,” reads a sentence from the time-honored Three-Character Classic which was used to teach Chinese children Confucian values until recent times, stressing parents’ responsibility and obligations in child-rearing. Dong has mixed feelings about the treatment, but her father acted like most Chinese parents of his time, showing love for his daughter by making her constantly practice things he thought would help her later in life. While this way of parenting is controversial nowadays, it ultimately produced the desired results for people like Dong and some of her Chinese peers, who are considered more traditional and reserved than younger generations of talent.

 

 

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