Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Kids These Days

I recently taught a three day course for graduating Beijing high school students who are applying to universities in Hong Kong. The course was to prepare them for the oral interviews, which will be conducted in english: how to answer questions, how to debate and analyze arguments, and how to present themselves.

Not sure how qualified I was to do this, but I think I did a good job, although you'd think that someone from Hong Kong would be more qualified to speak about cultural issues and ettiquete relating to the SAR.

Anyway, what surprised me was the views several of the students had about Taiwan. One of the sample questions given to me was "if you had 30 billion RMB, how would you use it to help China?". Three out of the forty some students said they would use it to buy weapons to defend the country against America, and to retake Taiwan. I cautioned them that it's not clear how HK people feel about that issue, and they might not like hearing that sort of view, but I was genuinely surprised.

Another question "what is the biggest problem facing China today?" also drew several answers of Taiwan. What was odd was that A) the kids seemed to think the only solution was invasion, and B) no one seemed to think that the fact that millions of people could be killed was a downside to that plan. I didn't ask for any clarification (it's a sensitive subject here), but that was the sense I got.

I would have thought that the younger generation would be dissolutioned with old rhetoric about Taiwan, and given the massive influence of movies and music from Taiwan, there would be some protective sentiments, but no.

I did manage to convince them that Taiwan actually isn't a very pressing problem - no other countries recognize Taiwan, and every year China's strength grows in comparison. If Taiwan wanted to be free, the ideal time has long passed.

Apparently propoganda and indoctrination have not nearly lost all their power. The government may not be able to convince people of anything, but if it feeds nationalistic sentiment, it usually works. Of course, that's also a pretty good description of how things work in America. Food for though. . .

1 comment:

davinmama said...

Very interesting... Might be fun to get Ivy's mom's perspective on this (evil grin)