Chinese teacher who had student hold umbrella rebuked

Chinese President Xi Jinping holds an umbrellas in the rain during a ceremony at Tiananmen Square on October 1, 2013, in Beijing, China.

Feng Li/Getty Images

BEIJING - A Chinese grade school teacher was admonished Tuesday for letting a student hold a parasol for her on a school outing after photos of the incident drew overwhelming criticism on social media.

The Baoshan district education bureau in Shanghai said in a statement that it was reminding teachers that they must discipline themselves and care for their students.

Chinese officials have long had the privilege of having underlings hold umbrellas to shield them from the elements, but the practice - once seen as a symbol of status - has been derided by people who see it as an act of arrogance indicative of an authoritarian regime.

Last year, a photo of President Xi Jinping holding his own umbrella in the rain won a top journalism prize, as it portrayed him as a normal person.

The photos of the small boy stretching up his arm to hold the parasol over his teacher's head on a sunny day as she walked and then sat on a bench touched a nerve among the Chinese public, who responded with torrents of sarcasm and criticism, even after local media reported that the boy did it willingly.

Responding to public opinion, local education officials swiftly launched an investigation and announced their decision.