Man whose ancestors invented calligraphy takes crap on subway


History Correspondent

Yang's actions have been called both a "form of performance art against pernicious corporate encroachment in society" and "typical peasant behavior"

BEIJING (China Daily Show)  –When Beijing resident Yang Yulin, whose ethnic forebears developed movable type printing, paper and calligraphy techniques, felt the call of nature at an inopportune time on his journey to work, he didn’t hesitate for a moment.

Dropping his trousers in front of disinterested commuters on the corner of Xinjiekou subway station, Yang, 37, crouched – and took the call.

Yang, a DVD retailer originally from Henan Province, denied that the action represented a downward spiral for his ancestry, arguing that his forefathers would have been forced to do it outside, behind a bush and without paper, rather than in a subterranean miracle of urban engineering.

A product of the world’s oldest and most complex civilization, which effectively helped shape the world as we know it and contributed more to European scientific and cultural development than Archimedes, Copernicus and Shakespeare combined, Yang is reportedly fond of talent shows and is a regular contributor to, a blog about the English Premier League.

Yang belongs to China’s Han majority ethnic group, who, amongst other achievements, established a fully unified and integrated Chinese state, mastered bronze workings, developed the Chinese writing system into its modern form, and also pioneered silk, the compass and astronomy. He spends most of his free time watching television and shouting at his wife and son.

Ethnographer Wang Luoshan told China Daily Show that Yang’s specific ancestry included Lou Xe, a court poet who had charmed the Qing Emperor Kangxi with an ode to falling peach blossoms, a carpenter who created intricate redwood furniture for the moneyed elite of Suzhou and a government official who introduced the silkworm to the Central Asian steppes during the Tang Dynasty.

According to Wang, an unnamed catastrophic event in the late 1960s led Yang’s father to abandon his research into the effects of traditional Chinese herbal medicines on cancer cells and instead seek employment as a farmhand in Inner Mongolia. Yang Senior died shortly before his son was born in 1974 to a thirteen-year-old corn-cropper.

Whether or not Yang is proud of the contributions made to Chinese and world culture by his forebears is still unknown, however –- at press time, he was still standing outside his DVD stall in Haidian district, smoking a cigarette and waiting for his son to finish urinating down a storm drain.

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