Japanese essay a test for Chinese

Central Station | 30 Apr 2021

What does a Japanese essay have to do with students taking the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Chinese exam? It turns out they were asked to answer questions about a translated Japanese article written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa.

The Japanese writer, who is called "the father of Japanese short story," was active in the Taisho period from 1912 to 1926. He committed suicide aged 35 in 1927.

Why is this important? All the articles in previous DSE Chinese language reading exams since 2012 were by writers from the mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority explained that in the essay, titled Mandarin Oranges, the author portrays characters from different social classes.

The HKEAA said the extract was used to test whether candidates can understand the characters' emotions and psychological change.

Two other articles were included in yesterday's reading exam - Train and Orange by Taiwanese writer Hsu Kuo-neng, and a chapter from the collection Garden of Stories by Confucian scholar Liu Xiang.

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