A 61-year-old father who said sending his daughter to study abroad in the United States was “the worst decision of [his] life” is making the rounds on Chinese social media.
Zhang Yong told the Guangzhou Daily on Tuesday that his daughter, Zhang Li, traveled to the U.S. 10 years ago to pursue a degree at an unnamed American university.
She eventually married an American man and never returned to her hometown.
Zhang, a retiree who used to work in an electronic parts factory, said he has sacrificed ton of things for his daughter’s education, selling his 110-square-meter (1184-square-foot) house and moved to a smaller apartment to save up money for the over 300,000 yuan ($43,500) annual tuition.
At first, he and his family were so proud that Zhang Li got accepted to a great school, but Zhang Yong now says he is concerned nobody will care for him and his 60-year-old wife, Zhu Jing, in their old age.
When they said goodbye at the airport a decade ago, Zhu said she set strict rules for their daughter: Do not find a foreign boyfriend, don’t become a single mother or get in a relationship with her teachers.
She also used to call her daughter three times a day, but Zhang Li hardly speaks to her family anymore.
“We haven’t been in contact with her for two weeks,” said Zhang.
Since Thursday, hashtags on the topic have been viewed more than 20 million times and counting on China’s social media site Weibo, with many netizens debating the value of leaving the country to study overseas, according to Sixth Tone.
“If you’re talented enough, you should first pay back the money your parents spent on you before you pursue your own dreams,” one user commented. “Making your parents responsible for paying for you to be happy is just selfish.”
Another wrote: “Did the parents even consult the daughter about how she wanted it to be paid for? What’s the problem now that she has found her own happiness and doesn’t want to come back? If the parents just wanted some money-earning machine to take care of them in their old age, then that’s just too bloody disgusting.”
One other user said: “No mother or father wants to stop their children from doing well.”
According to the Chinese Ministry of Education, about 523,700 Chinese students traveled abroad to attend college in 2015.