Young China
Chinese youths use computers at an Internet cafe in Beijing in June 2005. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

Chinese youths use computers at an Internet cafe in Beijing in June 2005. (AP Photo/Greg Baker)

To be young and Chinese today — if you’re middle class or better, if you’re in a good school — is to be in a sweet spot by the standards of Chinese history. Young China is riding a boom, with booming dreams to match. And if we’re headed into the Chinese century, the hand that steers the wheel will be young Chinese students in college right now.

Anyone in China today under twenty wasn’t born when students protested and died under banners of democracy in Tiananmen Square. The word is, today’s young Chinese — college students — aren’t protestors. They’re China boosters, looking to a big, bright future.

In this hour, we ask how young China sees the world. We have three Chinese students joining us, standing in for a generation. That’s a tall order, but we’ll give it a try.

This hour was pre-recorded in Shanghai, and we’ll have the full audio posted here later today, but you can join the conversation right now by posting your comments below on this page.


With us in our studio, Anita Wang is a sophomore at Fudan University in Shanghai, one of China’s top colleges, majoring in electrical engineering. She’s 20 years old and grew up in Shanghai.

Also joining us in the studio is Henry Fu. He’s in his third year of a five-year program at the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Trade. He is majoring in French and business, and hopes to eventually own his own business importing French wine and cheese to China. He also grew up in Shanghai and is 20 years old.

And joining us from NPR’s studio in Beijing is Zhang Ying, a second-year student in a two-year master’s program in Public Administration at Tsinghua University, also a super-elite school. She has interned for Citigroup, where she’s accepted a job in China when she graduates in July. She spent last summer in Atlanta in the Carter Center’s China Program. She grew up in TianJin, near Beijing, and is 24 years old.

And in our studio is Joy Le Li. She has worked as a producer and researcher in China for NBC News, PBS’s Frontline, and CNN, and she has been a producer for On Point here in Shanghai. Thirty-three years old, she grew up in Ningbo and now lives in Beijing, and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yokohama National University in Japan and a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs.

Links & Extras:

Slideshow: Young China
A collection of photos we gathered on Flickr.

“China’s Loyal Youth” (The New York Times, April 13, 2008)
Matthew Forney, a former Beijing bureau chief for Time, writes: “Educated young Chinese, far from being embarrassed or upset by their government’s human-rights record, rank among the most patriotic, establishment-supporting people you’ll meet.”

“China’s Me Generation” (Time, July 26, 2007)
Time Magazine’s Simon Elegant looks at the life of a generation of Chinese youth “for whom prosperity and personal freedom haven’t required democracy.”

Growing Up in China: In the House of Oppression
Human Rights in China (HRIC) released a series of essays on how some youth have experienced a harsher side of life under China’s authoritarian system, including statistics and official policies on youth crime, a look at child prostitution in rural china, and an interview with the eight-year-old child of a Chinese dissident living in exile in America.

News Media, Blogging, and the Internet:

Danwei: Chinese Media, Advertising and Urban Life
An extensive and eclectic news aggregation site. The site’s overview of the media landscape in China includes both independent and state run publications and TV shows. They also have a timeline of the history of media in China.

Danwei’s List of English-Language Blogs
An index of individual “informative, well-written websites” on China, including blogs by China based journalists and blog recommendations by category.

China Digital Times
An aggregation of the latest news articles on China, including articles from western media and translated articles from the Chinese media.

An example of how Western media is perceived as biased by young Chinese, this site is a noisy protest against what it calls “the lies and distortions in the western media.”
A search engine indexing over 400 English-language blogs on China.

Isaac Mao’s English Blog
Isaac Mao, one of the pioneers of blogging in China, writes in English about technology, politics, and human rights. The English section of Isaac’s blog represents only a small portion of his posts. You can also visit his more extensive Chinese language blog. – China’s YouTube (in Mandarin)
China’s biggest video sharing site,, serves 30% more minutes of video per day than YouTube does. Watch some of what young China is watching.

“The Connection Has Been Reset,” by James Fallows
The Atlantic’s James Fallows recently reported on “The Great Firewall of China” and found that it’s “crude, slapdash, and surprisingly easy to breach” — but effective nonetheless. He explains why.

What the Chinese Think About Internet Censorship in China
A March 2008 study from the PEW Internet & American Life Project finds that “Most Chinese Say They Approve of Government Internet Control.”

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