Xamba Yangzoim, Armchair General
China has a long civilization. During millenia, China practiced meritocracy and polygamy, punished criminal ruthlessly.
The net effect is that smart people were able to rise to the top of society and had more children. Dumb people who had to resort to crime to make a living were removed from general population.
This evolutionary pressure may not be significant for a country with short history, but has a significant impact on a country with long history such as China.
In 1996, there were 15,224,282 people born in China. When they reached age six, which was in 2002, about 90% of them were enrolled in primary schools.
When they reached age twelve after six years of primary education, they were admitted to junior secondary schools in 2008. In junior secondary schools, they would study for three years.
After the junior secondary education, things started to change. They had to attend an examination known as Zhongkao in 2011. Only about 50% of them were admitted to senior secondary schools. The other half, some of them dropped out; some of them were admitted to secondary vocational and technical schools.
Three years later, in 2014, there were only about nine million attending university entrance examination known as Gaokao. That’s about 62% of people born in 1996. 74.3% of the attendees were admitted to higher education schools. That’s 45.8% of the people born in 1996.
Of the people who attended higher education, 52% of them went to senior colleges (under graduates); 48% of them went to junior colleges or senior vocational and technical schools.
Considering the people who went to senior colleges, that’s about 23.8% of the people born in 1996.
That’s not the end. The senior colleges can furtherly divided into three tiers. There were about 2,819,500 admitted to tier two or above senior colleges. That’s about 18.5% of the people born in 1996. The rate of tier one is 6%.
Tier one colleges can be furtherly divided into three tiers, normal, 211 project, 985 project. Only 1.2% of the people born in 1996 went to 985 project senior colleges. They’re the ‘smart’ ones you are talking about.
Considering China has 1.4 billion people, 1.2% of them is 16,800,000. Guess we have more smart people then.
Back to the original questions — Why are the Chinese so smart?
Because you’ve only met the best of the best yet. Even though they’re small percentage of the total population, still it’s a huge amount.
First of all, IQ is not the be-all, end-all of intelligence.
It is not. There are so many other ways to measure intelligence. And what are you talking about? Emotional intelligence? Artistic intelligence? Be more specific, please.
Okay, so for the sake of this answer we’re going to pretend that what you’re talking about is book-smarts because that’s what most people think of when they think of “intelligence”.
And the answer?
They aren’t. They just work harder. As we know, working harder (usually) means getting better results. That’s what you’re seeing - the better results.
The main reason is the huge population base. just take 3% of 14 billion = 42,000,000. Comparing to well developed and superpower countries, 42m approx. to 13% of US population, 1/3 of Russia, and Japan, 1/2 of Germany, 80% for France, and UK, more than Canada. The second reason is the long history of highly developed culture with accumulation of knowledge and wisdom. P.S. India is matching with China in population, but nothing else.
主要原因是人口基数庞大。只取14亿的3% = 4200万。对发达国家和超级大国而言，差不多也有有4200万聪明人。美国人口的13%，俄罗斯的1 / 3，日本的1 / 2，法国的80%，英国的80%，超过加拿大。第二个原因是其积累了大量知识和智慧的文化高度发达的悠久历史。印度在人口方面与中国是相当的，但除此之外别无其他。
Part of it is eugenics. China has a slightly higher average IQ than Western nations, because the one child policy prevented the poor from having more than one child while allowing the rich to afford more than one. This means the more successful, more intelligent people in China have been having the most kids. It's the absolute opposite in America.
The main reason, though, is the education system and work ethic that the Chinese have. They seem smarter, because they're more educated during high school and work harder than Western nations.
Mark Werner, I l
Think about your sample. Most of the Chinese (or Indians, or whoever) that the average “westerner” meets are individuals who have come to America to pursue advanced studies at prestigious universities, or people who have come over on “tech” visas because they already have advanced degrees and training in a particular field.
Doctors, engineers, technicians….
So, you are seeing the “best of the best”. If you went to China or India, and wandered around the streets and talked with the average joe ….. Chances are he wouldn’t be any brighter than any other average joe anywhere in the world.
As the one answer says… It’s a “meme”… An ethnic stereotype.
I’m not sure all Chinese are smart, there are plenty of dumb ones.
It’s a highly competitive society, starting with the education system, and this forces people to think about what they want to do with their own lives so that they can do something meaningful and make meaningful contributions.
Chinese society is much more competitive than western societies in this respect, and I think it forces people to think differently. When Chinese go to the west, it gives them a certain advantage, especially when westerners don’t understand that Chinese live and work according to a different set of social rules.
This is something westerners who have not lived in Chinese society cannot understand.
According to modern science, the early age education is significant important for a child`s life long development.
Chinese education forces children to learn a lot in maths other subjects from age 5 to 18 years old, which is very useful to maintain an average level of intelligence for the majority.
However, this does not allow some creative thinking.
Comparing with other nations, today`s Chinese does not create that much.
This means, not smart enough actually from the general aspect.
Imagine a school system that seems like slavery. Imagine parents that don’t celebrate accomplishment and constantly push you to be better. Imagine crying and be told how weak you are.
It’s not that they are physically smarter, it’s that they are forced to slave away in school and train their minds to think a lot. The harmful effects of this is they generally lack creativity, personality and imagination.
There’s a reason why Chinese people are usually not CEOs.
On average, the Chinese population is a tiny little bit smarter than the Caucasians. The average IQ of Caucasians is 100, while for the Chinese it’s 105. But from what I observed, most chinese are very close to the average, there are fewer extremely smart Chinese person when compared with the white race. In Caucasian race, there’s a wider distribution of IQ. I’ve seen quite a few extremely smart white people(my IQ is 142 so when I see an extremely smart person that means that person’s IQ is probably above 155). I graduated from a top university in China, and went to an IVY LEAGUE university in the US for postdoc. I felt in that top university in China, there’re a lot of students who are about as smart as I am, and some are a little bit smarter. There were only one or two who are extremely smart. But in that ivy league university, I felt most of my co-workers are dumber than me, but there are quite a few extremely smart guys and gals.
No seriously, they are not smarter or dumber. why? because they are humans like you. IQ is not a reliable way to measure intelligence. The day people is accepting that, then maybe you can sleep more peacefully because it will comfort you that you are not more stupid than chinese (or replace chinese by whatever country people you like).
There’s no higher, or lower, incidence of “smart” among the Chinese than among any other group.
When I read the question, my brain thinks you are asking "why are white people so dumb" (or you can exchange some other racial identity.)