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China's Napoleon Complex

How the Middle Kingdom Shortchanges Its Short People

A laborer installs scaffolding to clean a statue of the late Chinese leader, Mao Zedong, September 22, 2007. Reuters

Not long ago, Stephen Morgan was dining at a restaurant in Sichuan Province, in southwestern China, when an employment advertisement caught his eye. In addition to experience and skills, it listed height requirements for each position—the higher the ranking, the taller the stature. A female kitchen hand had to measure at least four feet nine inches; a waitress had to be a minimum of five feet; and the pretty hosts who greeted guests at the door needed to be a lofty five feet five.

“Being tall is seen as [being] better educated, being a good marriage partner, and so on,” said Morgan, the dean of social sciences at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China. In fact, if the diminutive Deng Xiaoping were alive today—he stood at four feet 11—he would not have qualified to work as a waiter, let alone find a good job in the private and

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