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From: Karen Christensen,
Berkshire Publishing, [log in to unmask]
As concern about China’s
global stature intensifies, a preoccupation with height has surged in the
Middle Kingdom. Last month, a wildly popular text message circulated in China,
claiming that American dominance on the world stage is the result of the fact
that US presidents are consistently taller than their political rivals and
other world leaders. Many Chinese are coming to think that global stature
requires physical stature and that China should devote itself to
height increase just as it devoted itself to athletic performance for the 2008
This preoccupation has led to a surge in sales of extra-long green
beans, bean curd ribbons, and Pocky snack sticks. Yoga is being rebranded as
Chinese, and media directives suggest that Chinese leaders should be
photographed in a way that makes them look taller.
The Brookings Institution reports that height discrepancies between
world leaders have considerable effect on global geopolitics. Studies cite as
examples North Korea’s
diminutive leader, Kim Jong Il, whose height is a closely guarded secret, and Iran’s
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is 5’2” (158 cm). A 2008 Brookings white
paper suggested that it is in the United States’s best interests to
promote the careers of tall politicians around the globe, in order to avoid
having world leaders with “chips on their shoulder,” to paraphrase
The next president of China
will be Xi Jinping, who is 3 inches (7 cm) taller than current leader Hu
Jintao, who is 5’ 8” (173 cm). Hu himself is 2 inches above the
average Chinese male height of 5’ 6” (168 cm). (The average male
height in the US
is 5’9” [175 cm].) China’s
Guo Bixiong, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission (the equivalent
of the US Secretary of
Defense), is at least a head taller than the US’s Robert Gates.
But the prospective US
presidential candidates are taller still: Mike Huckabee is 5’11”
(180 cm) - gigantic by Chinese standards - Newt Gingrich is an even 6 feet tall
(183 cm), Scott Brown is 6’ 2,” (188 cm) and Jeb Bush is 6’
3”. Tim Gay Sr., although he is a dark horse in the 2012 election (languages:
“This is America
I know English only”) is a whopping 6’ 7” (201 cm).
The height of world leaders past and present is the subject of much
Current scientific thinking on height improvement is mixed. Surgery is
thought by some to offer the best short-term hope, but the risks are also
severe. Chinese parents are reluctant to try this on only sons. The use of
Human Growth Hormone is another possibility being looked at by the medical
establishment. Chinese Internet forums are ablaze with accusations that the
nation’s one-child policy will soon be stretched to allow tall parents to
have extra children.
is particularly adept at media directives and has recently begun to suggest
that the stature of Chinese pop heroes like Yao Ming should be given more
attention, and that Chinese leaders should be photographed in a way that makes
them look taller. Chinese leaders are fond of pointing out that Yao Defen, the
world’s tallest woman at 7’8” (233 cm), is Chinese. (The
world’s tallest man was Chinese until 2007.)
In recent weeks, there have been reports of several cases in China
involving height discrimination against people applying for government jobs for
foreign posts; the nation clearly wants to present a tall face in its dealings
with the world. Thousands of qualified applicants were denied after being
deemed to be even a centimeter too short.
Various natural height enhancement strategies are currently being
pursued. The Indian practice of yoga is known to stretch the body, and to
reduce the natural shrinking that comes as people age. Yoga classes are
therefore already being encouraged in China,
although the practice is being rebranded as a Chinese invention that was
exported to India.
New government regulations include higher chairs to stretch
children’s muscles and a requirement that all school supplies must be
moved one shelf higher to encourage stretching. All over China there are parks with exercise
equipment and it is common to see people, especially children, hanging from
bars with weights attached to their feet.
A Big and Tall store recently opened its doors in Beijing’s Wangfujing and business has
reportedly been brisk. Sales of extra-long noodles have increased, due to
rumors that eating longer noodles will increase your height. A man in a
restaurant in Wanxiao, in Shanxi
Province, told reporters
from The China Daily that longer noodles stimulate the water power of the body
and thereby encourage growth. “Your stomach understands what longer food
means,” he said.
Sales of extra-long green beans, bean curd ribbons, and Pocky snack
sticks are seeing double-digit growth and investment advisers are beginning to
consider this new social phenomenon.
Time will only tell what lengths (and heights) China will go to next.
MORE INFORMATION: http://www.berkshirepublishing.com/assets_news/AprilFoolsDaypage2011.htm
Photo 1: Children are encouraged to spend time hanging upside down in
order to lengthen their spines and reduce any tendency to radical thought.
Photo 2: China’s
National Basketball Association has launched a playground program tied to the
new tallness campaign, with the slogan, “Stretch for the Basket and Gain New
Photo 3: The skills of so-called “noodle artists” are being
stretched due to the demand for longer and longer noodles.
Photo 4: Sociological research shows that taller men are more
attractive to women. Given that there are expected to be over 20 million excess
single men in China
by 2020 due to the one-child policy, parents see an extra advantage in boosting
the height of their sons.
Berkshire Publishing: April Fool's Day 2010 - Celebrating the 4th of
July in China:
Berkshire Publishing: April
Fool's Day 2009 - ToFood:
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