In a diplomatic occasion in the old times, the foreigner praised the mandarin’s wife by saying “You have a beautiful wife”. The mandarin replied with the traditional Chinese expression when being praised “nali, nali”. The incompetent interpreter gave the literal translation of the phrase “Where? Where?” The puzzled diplomat, thinking hard for a moment, said, “She is beautiful everywhere!”
在中国清朝一次外交场合中，洋人称赞一官员的夫人道：“你有一个漂亮的妻子！” 官员以中国传统的交际表达方式回答道：“哪里哪里。” 不负责任的翻译直接以字面意思告知洋人：“哪儿哪儿。” 洋人闻之颇费解，思考良久乃答曰：“你太太在哪儿都漂亮！”
A new model of "Model worker"
Model Worker is an honor bestowed on hardworking people who have made contributions to the country and the award recognized “proletarian self-sacrifice”. The nationwide selection of Model Workers began in 1950, a time when endurance of hardship and a sense of sacrifice were highly valued and the manual laborers such as toilet cleaners, coal miners and construction workers were typical images of Model Workers in that era. The honor for decades has turned those anonymous “small potatoes” into celebrities in the state media. The government appointed Model Workers to inspire the masses on the virtues of their hard work, modesty, patriotism and unshakeable commitment to the cause.
In late 1970s, respect for intellectuals and knowledge was advocated. Many of the Model Workers during this period were scientists, engineers and education professionals. Later the country focused on economic development. Entrepreneurs and managers with insight and courage were selected as Model Workers across the country.
The Model Worker title was one of China’s most prestigious under the old planned economy, often bringing promotion, better housing and political notoriety. Though the title has lost some of its luster amid the market economy’s rise in recent years, the government has kept the honor alive as a way to inspire discipline, loyalty and hard work, and even took series of measures for improving the lives of retired Model Workers by offering packages of social benefits, medical care, and housing allowances and setting up a special fund to help retired Model Workers face special difficulties.
On the other hand, Model Worker is with a striking time stamp. It is clear that today’s Model Workers do not have to be laborers in the traditional sense. Those who work in air-conditioned rooms and drive BMWs can be models, too, as long as they bring positive influence to society and people look up to them. They are, to be more exact, role models.
Yao Ming is a perfect example. Working extremely hard, he is honest, down-to-earth, and most importantly, loyal to the motherland. As the first Chinese basketball player who has won his country both fame as well as commercial profit, he used to be the Model Worker of Shanghai twice, but his first time nomination as a candidate for the National Model Worker award has triggered a heated debate. A good number of people believe the young athlete should not be eligible for the country’s highest honor. The most often cited reasons are his wealth, celebrity and, for the most part, his residence in the United States.
小巨人姚明就是一个很有代表性的例子，他努力打球、诚实坦率，最重要的是，他热爱祖国。作为中国球员的身份时，姚明为自己赢得了荣誉和声誉，他曾两次当选上海市劳模。但是当他第一次被提名为全国劳模候选人的时候，却引起了一次不小的争论。很多人认为姚明不识和得到这个全国最高荣誉的称号，因为他富有、出名，还有最重要的是，他居住在美国。Yao confessed that he used to take the "Model Worker" as the title for those ordinary laborers working whole-heartedly and leaving their pay out of account, but he valued the award as one more honor and encouragement from the country.
Moreover, seven foreign managers working in the Dalian Development Zone were granted the title of Model Worker (not national title), the first of its kind in Dalian.
The nature of a Model Worker evolves as time changes. The evidence of the changing values reflects how times do change in China quickly. The evaluation system for Model Workers needs timely revision, as the old system is outdated and has no power to push social development forward. The "broad" definition for Model Workers should be "excellent persons in their respective fields reflecting the most esteemed values a society holds at a certain stage “