Chinese Short Stories and Parables

Chinese New Year Stories

Here is Will and Guy's selection of short Chinese stories sourced from the Chinese Media.

It Is A Wise Man Who Pays His Debts

Pay Debt or Lightning strikes

A Chinese man called Mr Xu, swore to God that he didn't owe $100 to his neighbour Mr Huang. In the time it has taken you to read this a lightning bolt struck down Mr Xu. Mr Huang remembered the debt well, Xu borrowed the money for a friend's marriage gift, Will and Guy have discovered. In desperation Mr Huang said that if Xu dared to swear to god that he did not owe the money, then he would waive the dept. Xu foolishly took up the challenge, and made the oath in front of a crowd of neighbours in Fuqing city, China. Less than a minute after Xu made his oath, he was struck down by lightning. Xu was quickly taken to hospital where doctors confirmed he had indeed been injured by lightning. While he is expected to make a full recovery, it is hoped that Xu will learn from this parable and settle his debt honourably.


Bangbang, which literally means "stick" in Chinese, is the nickname used for the farmers turned porters in Chongqing, Southwest China's largest city. Will and Guy have heard that they do the hardest, most tiring, dirtiest and most dangerous jobs in the city yet receive the lowest wages. The Mayor Wang Hongju said, when suggesting a more amiable and apt name for the porters last month. Nobody knows exactly how many bangbangs live in the city, which has a population of 30 million; but they seem to be everywhere and help make life convenient for many local people. Possibly the word Bangbang could smack of prejudice against the workers we think. The debate has been going on since the mayor made his comment. Locals call all migrant rural workers in the city bangbangs, and the name seems to have has stuck with those who do the most gruelling jobs, but are often cheated. Many residents ask the bangbangs to do chores but then do not pay what they promised. The porters get angry, but there is nothing much that they can do.

More Chinese Short Stories

The Path Of True Love Never Runs Smooth

Panda Love

They say the path of love never runs smooth, and never a truer phrase was spoken after two male giant pandas got into a fight over a mate in Changqing State Natural Reserve in Shaanxi Province, we have learned. The panda that came worse off was found on recently and sent to a local wildlife rescue centre. After a thorough examination, vets estimated that the fight had occurred some 3 weeks before. To add to his problems, the panda fell from a height leaving him paralysed in the lower half of his body. He was sent to another hospital for further treatment. Wei Pengli, from the rescue centre told Will and Guy that giant pandas often fight for the attention females.

Beware Of Flying Dogs

A woman fainted when a dog fell down from the top of a building and struck her as she sat drinking tea in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, last week we have learned. The dog, weighing about 5 kgs, had been left alone on the rooftop by its owner for a "breath of fresh air." Needless to say it unexpectedly fell over the edge and plummeted towards the ground where it hit the tea drinker. Its owner has agreed to pay the medical fees for the shocked woman, who had to be hospitalised. Sadly the dog failed to survive the ordeal.

Listen: Do Not Feed The Bears

Don't feed the bears

A visitor to a zoo, who was worse for wear from drinking too much alcohol, was badly injured trying to hand feed a caged bear. The rather silly man from Shandong Province was freed from the bear's grasp after keepers rushed to help. Zoo officials indicated to Will and Guy that the man's actions foolish in the extreme. He had apparently ignored warning signs instructing him not to feed the animals or reach into their cages. 'If you ignore the safety warnings, you must take full responsibility for the consequences,' a zoo official told us. You couldn't make it up.

Seagulls by Lie Zi

Seagull parable

A young man who lived by the sea loved seagulls.  Every morning at daybreak he would go to the seaside and play with the gulls.  Hundreds of gulls would come to him and not fly away. His father said, 'I heard that seagulls like to play with you.  Catch a few for me so that I can play with them too.'  The next morning when the father went to the seaside the seagulls swooped about in the skies but none came down to him. The message of this parable is that one may try, but unable to, hide one's inner thoughts. Even birds and animals can sense one's true feelings.

Chinese Parable of the Lost Axe by Lie ZiMoral Story

A man who lost his axe suspected his neighbour's son of stealing it. To him, as he observed the boy, the way the lad walked, the expression on his face, the manner of his speech - in fact everything about his appearance and behaviour betrayed that he had stolen the axe. Not long afterwards the man found his axe while digging in his cellar. When he saw his neighbour's son again, nothing about the boy's behaviour nor appearance seemed to suggest that he had stolen the axe.

Legend of the Chinese Dragon

Chinese Dragon Legend

The farther dragons travel from their home in China, the more toes they lose. Fortunately, Will and Guy have discovered, when wandering dragons return home to China, all their missing toes grow back. Since most dragons would prefer to keep all their toes, all the time, few dragons ever wander very far from home. Explanation: In addition to China, Korea and Japan use dragons in their art.  Fortunately, it's easy to tell the difference just count the dragon's toes.
  1. Chinese dragons have five toes.
  2. Korean dragons have four toes.
  3. Japanese dragons have three toes.

Huang Fu and the Bottle of Wine Parable

Huang Fu was a very rich man who was deliberately tough on his farmhand, Hop. Huang Fu gave Hop a bottle and said, 'Buy me a bottle of wine.' Hop, the poor farmhand enquired, 'How can I buy you wine with no money at all?' Huang Fu replied disdainfully, 'Anyone can buy wine with money. It takes real skill to buy wine without money.' Time elapsed and Hop eventually returned farmhand returned with the empty bottle. He handed the bottle to Huang Fu and murmured, 'Enjoy the wine, please.' Staring at the empty bottle with some dismay, Huang asked, 'There is no wine, how can I enjoy this?' Hop replied to Huang Fu, with a straight face, 'Anyone can enjoy wine if there is some.  It takes real skill to enjoy wine when there is none.' Huang Fu made a choking sound but was unable to utter a word.

A Chinese Woman Involved in a Car Crash - Because She Let Her Dog Drive

The accident happened in the city of Hohhot, capital of north China's Inner Mongolia region, Xinhua news agency has reported. The woman, named only as Li, decided to let her dog drive when she noticed how he was of crouching on the wheel. She let the dog steer while she operated the accelerator and the brake. The experiment resulted almost immediately in a collision with another car.

Funny Hen Produces Odd Egg

A hen in China has produced a soft-shelled egg in the shape of a figure eight. Will and Guy have obtained a photograph of this strange phenomena: Strange Double Egg Mrs Dong, of Shijiazhuang, northern China's Hebei province, first suspected something unusual when she heard the hen making unusual noises one night. 'I had never heard anything like it before. When I approached she stopped making the noise but as soon as I left she started again,' she said. 'The next morning, I was so surprised to find the weird-shaped egg in the hen's cage.' Mrs Dong has decided not to sell or eat the egg but is keeping it, preserved in a box, because it is so unusual. Professor Wu Yuefeng of Hebei University's Life Science department, commented to Will and Guy, 'It's very rare to see such a weird-shaped egg. This will be the result of a lack of calcium in the hen's diet which has prevented it from creating a hard shell.' Footnote:  We are anxious to add more Chinese short stories that capture the character and traditions of the country.