Ha ha ha, the misinformation in this thread is incredible. Take it from someone who has lived, studied, and worked in mainland China for over 5 years, many of you are wrong about a lot of things.
1) While the gaokao is important, you can succeed without it. The richest people in China are all entrepreneurs, just like in the US. The two richest men in China didn't even go to college.
2) China has their own form of Affirmative Action, but instead of being done by race, it is judged on by what province you are from. For instance, the max score on the test is 800, and to get into the top Universities (Beida, Qinghua, Zhejiang) you need to have the highest test scores from your province. However, the highest test score from Jiangsu province will probably be around 700, while the highest test score from Xinjiang or Tibet will be around 500. They have actually had scandals where parents move to different provinces just so there kid will have a better shot at getting into a better school.
3) They do take art and music seriously. I have traveled to the Chinese National Art Academy in Hangzhou and the students there are highly regarded by other Chinese for their dedication and skill.
4) Girls go after guys in China for the same reasons they go after guys in the US. I lived with a book worm while studying in Beijing, and trust me he and his other book worm friends were not being chased by the women.
I agree their testing system is not perfect. But when you literally have a million people every year applying to college, how else can you judge them? Even small universities in China have around 20,000 students. It would be impossible to use a system like we have in the US.
And finally, students in China, do get an extra boost in college admissions, just like in the US, if they are a good athlete, musician, debater, etc.