PKU … today is not yesterday, but sometimes feels like it.

A couple of Peking University themed stories. First, a reminder of why 2009 is not 1989:

  • I usually link to articles in the left hand column, under ‘6 things I’m reading’. But given the focus of this blog, I’ll press the point with two pieces on modern students at Beida and Tsinghua, in the New York Times and the FT. Both argue, rightly, that the class of ’09 is a world apart from that of ’89. The FT piece is better: the NY Times overplays the angle of students being scared into inaction. Journalists have even cited the heavy security presence on the gates at PKU as evidence of this. What rubbish: noone who goes to Beida gives a second glance to those guards, like they never go further than the first glance at your ID. More on this topic soon.

Next, a reminder that the more things change the more they stay the same:

  • Here’s a telling news story from Beida (a month old, sorry), which I heard from a contact in its administration. A PKU student went into one of the many little photocopying stores on campus to copy a legal letter of protest to a computing company who sold him a faulty computer. Nothing big. Nothing political. But they refused to let him copy the letter when they saw it was legal in nature. As did every one of the other campus copying stores he tried. Evidently some kind of restriction passed down from university administration, which deems students writing legal letters too sensitive. Really shocking. This was picked up by Chinese media I gather, but I can’t find a link.

    Happy dragon boat festival! Remember, don’t drown yourself in a river unless you’ve first written some beautiful poetry and been wrongly accused of treason.


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