In the first installment of a three-part documentary exploring the life of China’s youth, BBC journalists sit down with Wang Sicong, arguably the face of the country’s second generation rich, or fuerdai.
After exploring the disciplinary boot camps to which parents send their unruly children for a 9-month rehabilitation program, journalist Bille J D Porter interviews Wang to get his perspective on the Chinese education system and the phenomena of gaming addiction.
Being the son of China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, he naturally has plenty of money with which to throw at his hobbies and to this end owns his own professional gaming team. His wealth also allowed him to annoy every Apple fanboy in China by uploading to Weibo a picture of his dog wearing two Apple Watches just days after their release on the mainland.
Having been educated in the UK, Wang offers some remarkably frank answers to Bille’s line of questioning. When asked if it were possible for Chinese children to exist “outside of the system,” Wang replied: “The state chooses what’s mainstream, and you have to conform to that. If your ideals are not mainstream, then you’re wrong.”
Wang continued to say that the rigid nature of the Chinese education system could potentially explain the prevalence of gaming addiction in China:
Everyone has their own ideas, so what they do is put on a mask, and they go forward in life with a mask. Why is online gaming becoming so popular in China? Because once you go online you can take off that mask and say whatever you really think rather than what is mainstream.
Watch the interview in full here (but be warned the Chinese subtitles aren’t exactly faithful to what is said):
Secrets of China comes hot on the heels of another documentary by the BBC called Are Our Kids Tough Enough? Chinese School, which saw a group of Chinese teachers take over classes at one of the UK’s top comprehensive schools for a month.
Readers from the UK can still watch both documentaries for free on iPlayer.
By Dominic Jackson