July 11th, 2011
China Prep

“Interesting and thought-provoking….
It also might make you a little uneasy, which is an even better reason to watch….
Focused, fast-moving and compelling”
–New York Daily News

As the world’s attention turns to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, WIDE ANGLE reports on how the next generation of Chinese leaders is being molded.

China Prep follows five Chinese students through their final high-pressure year at an elite high school in Sichuan Province. Eighteen hundred students vie for spots in Beijing’s top two universities. Last year only 59 made it.

Studying seven days a week, the students’ lives are regimented almost every minute of the day as they prepare for the end-of-year exam that can determine their fate. For many students from poor or rural backgrounds, a strong performance on the test is the only way to climb the social ladder and excel without connections. Competition is fierce and the majority of high school seniors will be relegated to vocational schools.

We meet Zhang Lie, who wants to study law and become a Communist Party member like her father; Mei Jiachin, a genius mathematician from a farming family; Chen Zhibo, a misfit science student with big plans to become China’s Bill Gates; and Gao Mengjia, a dedicated student who loves money and aspires to be a hedge fund manager.

Nicknamed the “I want” generation by the Chinese press, these only children – the sole focus of their parents’ and grandparents’ nurturing under China’s one-child policy – will be the new class of corporate managers, lawyers, and civil servants who are expected to propel 21st century China to surpass the United States as the largest economy in the world.

How do the ambitions of these teenagers reflect the realities of today and tomorrow’s China? Who among them will be most likely to succeed – the daughter of the Party official or the farmer’s son? Who will be the boss?

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