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This is a decent article with some pretty serious problems. Basically, the author tells us that young and educated Chinese are optimistic but also more egoistic than older generations. This statement could be made for pretty much all contries in the world. However, we all know that it especially applies to China. This is hardly anything new and we've heard about "little emperors" and the "only-love-me generation" for over a decade now.|
I find some of the attempts to explain this phenomena in China rather weak. The author is trying too hard to find reasons that are NOT connected to the one-child policy (since others already have written about this). It's true that Chinese young people study hard but so do many other young people in various other countries. The author is clearly in the States and he compares everything to the States. Yes, the American school kids study less, but what about the Japanese, Koreans, Hungarians, ...? The author claims that "volunteer work, sports, church groups, debate teams, musical skills and other extracurricular activities don’t factor into college admission, so few participate." Again, these things matter in the States, but not really in e.g. Europe (it should also be stated that sports DO factor into the Chinese college admission and that sports activities are encouraged in China). In fact, I would say (based on my own experience), that the young Chinese the article is concerned with HAVE taken part in all kinds of extracurricular activities, such as sport, dancing or playing musical instruments (not to mention all the foreign languages they've studied and the countless "English corners" their mothers have sent them to). Lack of extracurricular activities is hardly the root of the problem.
Another misunderstaning (in my opinion) is the assumption that young Chinese don't know the more recent history of their country. This is in my opinion absolutely wrong. Again, based on my own experiences, young people in China know EXACTLY what happened during e.g. the CR, and they are fully aware of the parents' various struggles in the 70s and 80s. Yes, the school books in China will focus on the postive (like school books everywhere), but it's ridiculous to claim that the young people in China don't have a clear picture of what has happened in the past. That this knowledge doesn't affect them the way the author would like them to be affected (i.e. become more critical of the government) is not surprising. How much does the My Lai massacre make American youth more critical of their government? Young people everywhere live in the moment, not in the past...
Finally, in order to prove his point, the author refers to the fact that none of the 29 Chinese intellectuals
signing the petition. This is, in my opinion, an absurd example: try to be recognized as an "intellectual" anywhere while you're still in your 20s...
Yes, there is a generation in China that is getting rich and successful today. Yes, they are young, bright, urban and educated. Young, bright, urban and educated people tend to be successful EVERYWHERE (it's not a crime...). Are they egoistic? You bet! Are they MORE egoistic than young, bright, urban and educated people EVERYWHERE? Probably, but the reason is not like the author wants us to believe based on a lack of church groups or flawed ideas about modern history, but rather the good-old one-child policy.