Thursday, January 28, 2010

Roger Cohen: The self-immolation of Tang Fuzhen

NYT, 1/25:

On that day, Nov. 13, as Tang Fuzhen yelled at the demolition brutes to stop the violence against her siblings, as she pleaded with them to leave her house intact, she doused herself three times in gasoline, saying she would set herself on fire, right there on the roof, if the beating of her family continued.

The blows continued to rain down and the self-immolation of Tang Fuzhen, 47, was added to the long list of victims of explosive Chinese development.

The nexus of that growth often comes down to real estate: Who owns it, who gets the sweet deals on it, who gets ousted, and who among Communist Party officials and their developer cronies pockets the big bucks from the infrastructure, business and residential projects that have turned China into a monumental construction site.

POSTSCRIPT: Also from the NY Times, a different subject but also one I closely follow: Education as a Path to Conformity. Quote:

Starting at 6, children are buried under an avalanche of studies until they graduate from high school. Twelve-hour days (less on weekends, but no days off) are common among first-graders. For his first Chinese New Year semester break, my 6-year-old son was given 42 pages of math and 42 pages of Chinese homework to complete in four weeks. The goal? Entrance to an elite college like Peking or Tsinghua University.

Yet once there, laziness can set in. Many students kick back, relying on their elite network to smooth a path through life. After the slog of the previous 12 years they feel they deserve a break. Perhaps they do. But it’s no incentive for academic brilliance.

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