This week, the New York Times managed to surprise me with a report titled "1977 Exam Opened Escape Route Into China’s Elite." It was curious that the Times would take up a subject whose significance is difficult for Americans to comprehend, while a disappointment that the reporter apparently failed to grasp, let alone convey, the significance of the event in question.
This report falls short in three ways: it uses an incongruous headline, unillustrative examples, and an unresourceful reporter.
Incongruous headline: since winter 1977,
Unillustrative examples: so, assuming the headline holds, who are the elites from the 1977 class (which happened to be my class)? According to the report, a couple of unheard of Chinese immigrants in the
Wrong reporter: apparently the reporter, who might otherwise be quite competent, was unable to find more representative or interesting sources from the class of 1977. I don't blame him. To have deep connections in
What I don't understand is why the Times does not use a Chinese writer or reporter who has better grasp and sources for things like the 1977 exam. I have been reading the Times for many years and have yet to see a major report on
If I were to write a report on this subject, I would not focus on how the 1977 exam changed a few people's life but instead how it generated a class with no precedence or antecedence. It was the first and the last exam of the lost generation of idealists, and it picked out a collection of the most aspiring students who, with no university to go to for ten years, had labored at the bottom of society and gained real understanding of China's problems. This unique, often painful, experience was what made them a class with unparalleled dedication to learning and, subsequently, a practical mainstay of