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The End of Cheap China, Revised and Updated: Economic and Cultural Trends That Will Disrupt the World by Shaun Rein

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CHAPTER 9CHINA’S EDUCATIONAL SECTOR PREVENTING CHINA FROM CEMENTING ITS SUPERPOWER STATUS

I was sitting in an oak-paneled meeting room in a five-star Beijing hotel. Surrounding me were several dozen of China’s smartest and most-talented teenagers and their anxious parents. They were there to interview for a leading boarding school in the United States, and I was there to take my niece to interview.

As we waited, the teenagers asked me about my own experiences decades before as a boarding-school student at St. Paul’s School, the preparatory school in Concord, New Hampshire, that has graduated artists such as Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, government officials such as Senator John Kerry and FBI Director Robert Mueller, and business titans such as former Mitsubishi Chairman Minoru Makihara. While I was there, Tim Ferriss, the best-selling author of The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body, was my classmate.

One young man with the broad shoulders of a lumberjack came up to me and asked, “Are class sizes better in boarding schools in America than in China? There are fifty people in my class at my school in Beijing now—it is way too big.” He continued to ask me about curriculum choices and whether there were electives. Next to him stood a slightly pudgy, pimply-faced girl dressed in a plaid skirt and a white, button-up blouse. She strode up close to me and asked, “Can you please tell me about the extracurricular activities? Can I go horseback riding? How about golf? All the ...

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