In China, genetic testing can determine if people are descendants of emperors. What good is that?

Wee Kek Koon:

Genetic testing has been popular for a while now and China has jumped on the bandwagon. To set itself apart from global competitors, Chinese DNA-mapping service provider 23Mofang claims that it can determine if its clients are the descendants of Chinese emperors. Could any Chinese person actually take pride in having imperial antecedents?

While there were a handful of great kings and emperors, the vast majority China’s many monarchs were of middling quality and presided over their realms with various levels of incompetence. Some were downright imbecilic, which goes some way towards explaining the frequent dynastic changes in the country’s long history.

People in modern times continue to attach importance to the descendants of eminent men and women, as if these ancestors, like the fattest hogs in a stud farm, had passed down the most desirable traits to them. Even in the most liberal democracies, names of certain political families still enthral the voting public, a phenomenon perhaps borne of a combination of the age-old fascination with “blue blood” and the present-day obsession with a “brand”.