MA Studies > Editorial design > Editorial design alumnus > Yonghui Zhao

Yonghui Zhao

Make in China

A research on Play and Creativity

Nowadays, the dramatically growing economy seems to be the only feature of China when people talk about this country. Olympic 2008 and World Expo 2010 showed an amazing rich and gorgeous picture of China to the whole world: vast land and abundant resources, rich historical and cultural heritage, the spirit of hard-working and efficient productivity of Chinese people. There seems to be no doubt that China would be the most potential developing country.

However, inside this beautiful shell, it is surprising that Chinese people (especially the youngsters) are actually facing a lot of disconcerting social problems. An article blocked by Chinese government called "My country" was written: The Chinese society is accumulating a lot of wealth and in the mean time becoming degenerate and dissipated. The phenomenon of a rich government and a poor population is getting more and more severe. The governments of different levels are striving to get as much benefit as possible from their people and the whole society is heading to a polarization: the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. The creativity of youngsters is killed in the frame of society, by a need of just a job and materials. Sixty percent of youngsters are in a confused and dodging mood for their life and future while a lot of middle age people are losing their happiness because of the high house prices.

This is such a conflicting picture compare with the impression of China possessing strong economy power and ancient civilization. These social problems are in fact partially due to our attitude of life and rigid way of living, and all of these factors have to do with our policy, abnormal crazy growing of economy and our examination- oriented education system.

“Made in China” and “Copyright” in China

For many people, "Made in China" is just another term for "Chinese cheap labor". It reminds me of some relative pictures such as all the workers in uniform working round-the-clock in a factory just for earning a little amount of money for their living expense. Besides, when people think about the industrial and commercial environment of China, another word "copyright" would flash into their mind. “Copycatting” factories “copy” and sell things illegally. They only care about the profit from the pirated copyright goods and ignore the value of creativity. For example, a real Louis Vuitton bag would cost 10 times of an imitation, most of these copycatting factories actually possess the ability of manufacturing products better than those LV bags, but since they are so used to “copying” other people’s products, they lost their own creativities.


Chinese people at a "material showing off" stage now

The amazing speed of the economy development of China leads to the polarization of the society. The rich is showing off their wealth and social status by buying luxury goods from abroad and in order not to be looked down to, some poor is also trying to buy those luxury goods above their best. The whole society is sort of "materialized". People worshiping money and foreign stuff leads to the crazy copying of foreign culture and ignoring of our own culture and own value. This is one the reasons why youngsters feel confused about their future.


Chinese examination-oriented education system 

In Chinese examination-oriented education system, students have been educated to become good workers, rather than creative thinkers. Students with restless minds and bodies -- far from being cultivated for their energy and curiosity -- are ignored or even stigmatized, with terrible consequences. "Chinese examination-oriented education system is educating people out of their creativity." The final consequence is that more and more graduates can’t find a job. Meanwhile, a lot of smart and creative students-but not suitable for the “examination-oriented education system”- lose their chance to step into universities. 

Therefore, China is now longing for "creativity" instead of "productivity". Because "creativity" is the most effective approach to change the fate of "Made in China", break through the "examination-oriented education system" and alter the negative Chinese way of living. It is then possible to let Chinese youngsters restore their hope for their life and future.

Precisely, I think Chinese people should learn the significance of “play” and how to play. According to my experience in studying Graphic design in the Netherlands, “Playing” is the most effective and direct way of fostering creativity.  However, “enjoying playing” has been always referring to the people who are lack of ambitions in China since ages ago. Therefore, “play” is kind of a negative word in China. In the Chinese social and education system, “play” is being ignored and discouraged. In fact, this attitude is very wrong.  Because play is a doorway to learning. Play stimulates our imaginations, helping us adapt and solve problems. Play arouses curiosity, which leads to discovery and creativity. The components of play - curiosity, discovery, novelty, risk-taking, trial and error, pretense, games, social etiquette and other increasingly complex adaptive activities - are the same as the components of learning. Play can also make work more productive and pleasurable.And this is the true significance for me to do a research called "Make In China", a research about how to foster creativity by "play". Eventually, this will help people to find back the fun of life and the meaning of living, and break through the dead way of living, the way that framed in "Made in China".

In the following half year, preschool-age children will be my research objects because they have the natural way of playing and they possess the most and best creativity. I would like to bring back the “free play” and “bold creativity” to Chinese people. After finishing my study in MaHKU, I hope to bring my research back to China and hold a workshop of "Make in China" to let more Chinese people participate, to let them realize the importance of play. I hope my effort will be part of the power that hopefully will change the impression of our country from "Made in China" to "Make in China", which possesses more creativity and more vitality.  


If you would like to know more about me, you can visit my website: