Education About Asia: Online Archives

Film and China’s Youth Culture

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By Stanley Rosen

China’s youth have been featured extensively in Western media reports in 2008, with the coverage reaching a crescendo as China prepared to host the Olympics in August. Whether in defense of the Olympic torch relays or in criticism of Western reporting about events in China—highlighted by the response to the rioting in Tibet in March—youth within China, as well as those studying abroad, have demonstrated their patriotism by defending the country against what has been considered unwarranted criticism from the West. Sometimes called “Angry Youth” (fenqing) or “neocon nationalists” even in relatively sympathetic accounts, the vehemence displayed even by those seeking or having already obtained advanced degrees from Western universities has shocked and dismayed many observers who had predicted that this new, highly educated, materialistic and “Westernized” generation would be taking the lead in moving China toward democratization. 1 At the same time, in a seeming contradiction, at least some knowledgeable observers at the Olympics expressed their surprise at the “sizable undercurrent of hope here that the United States will top the medal rankings,” and that “the Chinese really look up to the United States.”