Tuesday, August 28, 2007


At the private Young Pioneers Confucius school in Zhengzhou city, Henan province, kids practice how to give each other back massages so they can go home and offer one to their parents. Many parents want their children to study the ancient philosopher to learn how to respect their elders, but many Chinese have no real understanding of what Confucianism means anymore. Experts say they are grasping for something to believe in, in the absence of any real ideology.


Zhou Li, and her husband Wu Youming, a former police officer in Hubei province, both quit their state jobs and say they are happier as writers and painters, even without all the benefits they used to receive from their danwei. But they're unusual. Each year, as college enrollments rise, more and more graduates have difficulty finding jobs they want in the private sector.


In China, a woman kills herself every four minutes. The ratio is even worse in the countryside. That's according to the World Health Organization, which claims that China is the only country where more women commit suicide than men. The true picture is a bit more complex. Statistics differ from region to region and one might ask, why do so many more men in the west succeed at killing themselves? Experts in Beijing cite any number of causes for high suicide rates, from poverty and a lack of education to the stresses caused by migrant work. A chief reason, is the easy access to pesticides.
Here, Sun Jiangbao, disabled in a mining accident, practices exercises in his front yard. His wife Zhao Haixia, committed suicide 10 years ago during the Spring Festival, the biggest holiday of the year and one that often brings out family conflicts.