Story of Modern China Seen in 12-Year-Old Extortionist

Internet users in China are similarities between an elementary school bully and corrupt officials.
Story of Modern China Seen in 12-Year-Old Extortionist
School children leave their elementary school at the end of classes in Beijing on March 13, 2012. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

Where does China’s rampant corruption and abuse of power begin? As news of a six grader who used his position as class monitor to bully and extort money from classmates makes the rounds online, many see a microcosm of the country’s ills in this schoolyard case.

“Little J,” who attended the Huoxing Elementary School in Anhui Province, had been assigned by his homeroom teacher to check off other students’ homework assignments. He used his power to extort money from his classmates, state news reported on May 8.

If he didn’t receive money, “Little J” would badmouth the offending student before the teacher and destroy their homework. Some students even reported that “Little J” forced them to consume urine and excrement when they could not pay up.

Predictably, Little J’s tyrannizing was discovered when his victims spoke to their parents about having to give him money to avoid repercussions from him or their teacher. One parent told state-run Anhui News that her child once stole 4,000 yuan ($644) from home to pay Little J.

Little J, who internet users have compared to corrupt officials, had already been up to no good from second grade, Anhui News said. He first began blackmailing classmates for snacks, then moved on to money.

“This child would make a perfect official!” one comment on Sina Weibo a popular Chinese social media site, reads.

Another user wrote that “the government atmosphere has penetrated all the way down to elementary school.”

“Children learn by copying,” says a comment speculating that Little J’s parents must be officials.

Others directed their criticism at the classroom bureaucracy:

“The class leadership should be abolished and the teachers need to improve their management ability.”  

“How could the child be so brazen if he weren’t supported by the teacher?”

Following the incident at Huoxing Elementary School, Little J’s homeroom teacher was disqualified from teaching and the school principal was also fired. Little J himself is off to another school.