The Worst Man-Made Catastrophe, Ever by Roderick MacFarquhar
When the first waves of Chinese graduate students arrived on American campuses in the early 1980s, they were excited at entering an unfettered learning environment. After the recent ravages of the Cultural Revolution, political science students had few inhibitions about studying what had gone wrong in China as they were growing up. Especially after the Tiananmen massacre, many stayed on after their Ph.D.s, some to become professors.
But when Chinese began arriving in the US in significant numbers as college freshmen in the late 1990s,1 the situation was different: the Cultural Revolution had ended before they were born, Tiananmen was a blurred memory, China was booming, and many, perhaps most, planned to return home after gaining work experience in a laboratory or on Wall Street. In addition to having to adjust to different educational methods and lifestyles, Chinese undergraduates, like their graduate student predecessors, had the opportunity to learn about their country’s recent history untrammeled by the requirements of Party propaganda. Unlike their predecessors, however, the undergraduates had concerns.