A doctor is testing for students' health. /Screenshot via CNS
The start of adulthood for Chinese people begins at the age of 18. To help children cross over the threshold, Chinese middle schools often hold a solemn coming-of-age ceremony for their students, in which the students will recite an oath to do their duty for their family and their country, some even performing ritual bows to their teachers and parents.
However, a middle school in Taiyuan City, north China's Shanxi Province did something a little different at its coming-of-age ceremony, courting controversy on Chinese social media in the process.
The Taiyuan Technician College, together with the local Red Cross Society, called on its students who have turned 18 to donate blood as a special part of its coming-of-age ceremony. Hundreds of 18-year-olds and the faculty joined the voluntary drive, donating a total of 60,050 ml worth of blood in the process.
"After blood donation, the awareness of being a grown-up and responsibility to society are enhanced," Zhang Jiannong, the vice president of the college told the China News Service, a nationwide news outlet at the ceremony on Friday, which marked the college's fifth straight year of voluntary blood donation.
As the country with the world's largest population called on people to donate blood voluntarily for medical usage, blood donation points can be seen in hospitals and at some commercial areas of Chinese cities. Volunteers whose ages range from 18 to 55 years old can join the campaign by giving a donation of no more than 400 ml donation a year after an overall checkup, according to the country's law on blood donation. In return, the blood donors, along with their spouses and relatives will be exempted from some fees when they are in urgent need of blood.
It is the voluntary nature that has caused the school's ceremony to be questioned on Chinese social media.
"Was it voluntary? I hope the original intention of the activity hasn't been lost," Liaoning Forestry Vocational Technical College commented via one of its verified accounts on Weibo.
"[I] don't think the activity is good. This kind of group activity is not voluntary. If it had been a mandatory activity, it would not have been meaningful to students," commented @Buqingnianwenyi.
"[The school] can encourage qualified students to donate blood but the viewpoint that blood donation is good for health is wrong. The school holding this kind of group activity is hateful," said @Fulankedejie, voicing complaints against the college.
However, students have their own opinions on the special coming-of-age arrangement.
"I just saw others donate blood. It was a meaningful experience to me when I turned 18 years old," Go Na, a student of the college, said.
The college has not yet responded to any of the allegations so far.