‘Suzhi’ is a word so ubiquitous in China that no one can define it. We hear it from the mouths of our professors, cab drivers, political leaders, colleagues and we see traces of it in television ads, on patriotic banners, and school gates. Well-behaved children have suzhi. So do the principled soldiery, the traveled and moneyed, the socially circumspect. But what does suzhi actually mean? While at its most basic, suzhi signifies upstanding character and propriety; to say that someone lacks or has suzhi carries with it a whole host of connotations involving place, class, and culture. But does it carry the same connotation to everyone? And, what does suzhi mean in the context of urbanisation?
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