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PKU should stress books, not billionaires
北大不出大师出富翁 喜从何来

Peking University has created 79 billionaires for the past eleven years from 1999 to 2010. [File photo] 1999-2010这11年间,北京大学出产了79个亿万富翁。

Peking University has created 79 billionaires for the past eleven years from 1999 to 2010. [File photo]
Peking University, widely considered the top academic institution in China, has also proven to be a wealth factory, turning out some of the country's richest businesspeople. According to media reports, 79 of the school's alumni from 1999 to 2010 have gone on to become billionaires, the most of any academic institution in the country. PKU President Zhou Qifeng has expressed great pride at this distinction. I don't share the feeling. 作为公认的中国最高学府,北京大学用事实证明,它还是一个财富工厂,国内很多超级大富翁都是从这里走出去的。据媒体报道,1999-2010年间,共有79个北大学子转身变成亿万富翁,产量居全国高校第一。校长周其凤感到很自豪也很光荣,我却怎么也高兴不起来。
Established in 1898 as the Imperial University of Peking during a period of reform, the school was created as a replacement for the Guozijian, the top institute of learning in ancient China for more than a thousand years. In 1895, Emperor Guangxu issued an imperial edict making the construction of universities one of ten national priorities. At that time, Chinese scholars and reformers saw education as a way to produce the political and academic talent needed to carry the country forward. "The root of reform lies in education," Chinese scholar Liang Qichao wrote. "Talent comes from establishing schools." 北京大学的前身是创办于1898年的京师大学堂,用以取代一千多年来中国古代的最高学府——国子监。1895年,光绪皇帝在一份“诏书”中列出了要做的“十大实事”,其中就有“立学堂”。那个时候,中国的学者和改革家们都认为,通过教育才能培养政治名流和学术人才,从而带动国家进步。梁启超这样写道:“变法之本,在育人才,人才亡兴,在开学校”。
Instead of producing wealth, scholars of the day envisioned the university educating patriotic graduates to carry out their duty of improving China. As another scholar, Li Duanfen, put it: "Once schools are established, there will be enough talent for our country's administration and restoration." 在那个年代,学者们都期待着大学能培养出爱国之才、肩负起兴国之重任,而不是产出了多少富翁。另一位学者李端棻说道:一旦“立学堂”,“十年以后贤俊盈廷,不可胜用。”
Peking University, then, was an academic and political institution from its inception, not an incubator for the country's next generation of business moguls. In ancient China, businessmen occupied the lowest of social classes, and business was limited by the emperors of China for several thousand years. Today, that perspective has changed, but the importance of business should not be overstated. Should we feel proud when our top universities' goal is to produce rich businesspeople? 从办学开始,北大一直到那个时候都还是一个有着政治氛围的学术机构,而不是为国家培养下一代商业大亨的温床。在中国古代,商人的社会地位最低,中国几千年执政者也都是“抑商”的。如今,观点是变了,但是重商的思想也不应太过分。如果高等学府教育的目的是培养富翁,我们还会引以自豪吗?

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