A Chinese billionaire has sparked outrage for stating that women have caused “moral degradation” in China.
New Oriental Group founder and CEO Yu Minhong, or Michael Yu, made the controversial remark on stage during an education summit in Shanghai on Sunday.
“If all Chinese women looked for a man of principles, then all men in China would be able to recite Tang and Song dynasty poetry by heart,” Yu was quoted as saying. “If all women say that they want Chinese men to only make money and that his conscience doesn’t matter, then all Chinese men will have poor consciences. This is the standard that Chinese women use to choose men now.”
“The current denigration of women is leading to the denigration of the country,” continued the education tycoon.
Yu’s comments immediately went viral on Chinese social media, generating backlash from women across the country, according to Shanghaiist.
Yu, whose net worth is estimated at $1.8 billion, then backtracked on his statement on Sunday evening, clarifying that he merely did not express himself well.
“As a result of not expressing myself well, my comments led to misunderstandings among netizens. I deeply apologize for this,” the 56-year-old wrote on his Weibo account.
“The real meaning of what I wanted to express is that the level of women in a country corresponds with the level of the country. High-quality women and high-quality mothers can educate high-quality children. Men are also guided by women’s values. If women pursue an intellectual life, then men will become more intelligent. If women only have their eyes on money, then men will desperately try to earn money while neglecting their spiritual cultivation. If women are strong, then men are strong, then the country is strong.”
Netizens were quick to point out, however, that Yu’s “explanation” further doubled-down on his sexist views as he still blamed women for men’s behavior.
Yu, who has been called the “richest teacher in China” and the “Godfather of English training” founded New Oriental in 1993.
The Beijing-based firm, which teaches speaking skills to millions, is known as the most successful private education company in the country.