We’ve long known about the racist policies many Chinese schools have in place when choosing English teachers, but – for some reason – it comes as a surprise to find out they’re ageist too. Maybe it’s all those talks we had with our parents about how Chinese venerate the old. Yet, according to James Fallows, the country is not purging foreign teachers over the age of 60, refusing to let them renew their visas.
Fallows quotes an American named James Bishop, who taught at Baoding University in Hebei Province for seven years before having his squid fried:
“China is purging foreign teachers over the age of 60. No new visas. and no exception I know of anywhere in the country. I am on a forum that connects hundreds of teachers here. Smart ain’t it? Thus, no retired teacher, those with the most training and experience and the least likely to chase young Chinese women, can be hired into schools that desperately NEED trained teachers who have actually earned their degrees from accredited institutions.”
Curious, especially considering Chinese employment laws – while more shoddily enforced than we would like – do forbid age discrimination, we checked around “Teaching in China” forums too. It seems like, as with many things in China, this is a regional or even school-to-school level prejudice rather than a government-handed mandate. As one person noted, “Clearly, local, rather than national, guidelines apply.”
We’re not saying that this isn’t a problem or that James Bishop is being willfully facetious by pointing out that he and many other people got fired because they hit 60, and we’re especially sad that there are employers doing this – it’s not fair to anyone involved. But “China” is made up of a bunch of people, many sensible, many not. It’s worth noting that if you do get fired because of your age, but that slap in the face hasn’t spoiled your desire to stay here, you could probably shop around a bit before giving up.