China: "Tiger" kids and a colonial time-capsule

Pascale Harter introduces two dispatches examining unexpected sides to today's China. It seems the world has heard about the tales of the ferociously focused, academically rigorous Chinese "tiger mothers" who're willing to do anything to ensure their children's success at school. Parents elsewhere in the world might have quailed at the idea of having to compete with such an intensive regimen. But as Freddie Green finds out, even within China, doubts are growing about what effect "hothousing" children in this way has on their character and social development.

And now the new growth industry in education is companies offering non-academic courses and trips, aiming to build character - and family harmony - rather than racking up more certificates. And in Guangzhou, a bustling, booming, prosperous city and manufacturing centre, Petroc Trelawny finds a small oasis of calm, in the "colonial time capsule" of Shamian Island. Once it was home to foreign trading concessions, and they left their mark on its architecture; now it's the city's favourite backdrop for wedding photos.

Producer: Polly Hope
Photo: Elementary school children leaving at the end of classes in Beijing on March 13, 2012. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

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11 minutes

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Thu 7 Aug 2014 19:50 GMT

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