life is elsewhere

These past few days back in Shenzhen, I have had several conversations about the fact that so many Chinese families are sending their children abroad to study. Moreover, since the point is to get the children out of China, the consensus seems to be, the sooner the children leave, the better and so more and more families are sending their only children to boarding schools.

The reasons are many — better education, better job opportunities, better environment, healthier food, more access to information — but all boil down to the perception that life is better in the United States than it is in China. This is also a sentiment I’ve heard from thoughtful American friends, who are frustrated by the lack of public accountability and trust in public projects (mostly overbuilding for profit) in both Shenzhen and the interior.

By sending their children abroad, friends and colleagues make a clear statement about their confidence in Shenzhen’s future. The situation has me wondering whether or not it is wise to remain in China. What’s more, these doubts seem more pervasive than previously. Cetainly it’s ironic that just as Shenzhen seems to have made the international headlines, the elite — both economic and academic — are opting out of the Shenzhen dream.

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