Promoting Competition: A Dramatic Shift of Discourse

Part of the Palgrave Studies on Chinese Education in a Global Perspective book series (CEGP)


The fact that intense competition has become a central issue in Chinese education is rather intriguing. Traditional Chinese culture emphasizes interpersonal harmony and encourages restraining personal desires to address the needs and interests of others. This emphasis was still reflected in empirical studies of Chinese youth in the early 1990s. Research during that period consistently found that Chinese children and adolescents displayed more cooperative and compliant behaviors than their Western counterparts (Domino & Hannah, 1987; Domino, 1992; Orlick, Zhou, & Partington, 1990). How have individualistic competitive values taken root in a society that has a long tradition of emphasizing the virtue of practicing self-restraint and a recent history of encouraging self-sacrifice for the greater good? In this chapter, I examine the discourse of competition among Chinese educators in the last three decades, aiming to provide a historical and cultural background for my discussions in the following chapters of this book.


Competitive Activity Economic Competition Traditional Chinese Culture CHINESE Education Chinese Youth 
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© Xu Zhao 2015

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  • Xu Zhao

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