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By continuing to use our site you give us permission to deploy cookies per our privacy and cookies policy. Open Fellowships Menu. Not currently accepting applications. Overview The longstanding study of media effects on democracy and elections has taken on new resonance with the rise of social media platforms, the dramatic change in the business model of traditional news media, changes in advertising infrastructure, and increasingly globalized and interconnected communications. James Ni had a chance to study in America but instead remained in China and became a multimillionaire.

Hua Yijia, a venture capitalist in Beijing, studied and worked in America but wants her 8-year-old daughter to take pride in being Chinese. Hua said. Many analysts and Western diplomats are now confronting the likelihood that so much of what they assumed about how China would change — and become more like the West — is turning out to be wrong. You are encouraged to survive, to compete, to excel within the system. It was Aug. In the halls of Huining No. Since Qiucai began attending the school two years ago, his life has been a blur of late-night cram sessions, practice tests and mastering the art of finishing geometry problems while slurping noodles.

He attends classes until almost 10 p.

Perhaps nothing is more linked to social mobility in China than education, especially the college entrance exam, known as the gaokao. At Huining No. Yet if the gaokao is a symbol of opportunity, it is also a tool of social control. Scholars say it is a clever governing tactic borrowed from the keju, the Confucian examination system that determined the selection of government officials in China for more than 1, years. Even in dynastic China, the keju lent the government an aura of meritocracy, as it was open to all men. But only 1 percent of applicants passed the exam for the highest degree, since few had the time and money to prepare.

In a modern China rife with corruption, the gaokao is seen as relatively fair and incorruptible, meaning that those who fail are unlikely to blame the government. The gaokao was established in , under Mao, and initially only students with class backgrounds deemed suitably red were allowed to apply.

More than 10 million students rushed to take the exam, which was now more meritocratic, and open to almost anyone. In the decades since, the spread of basic literacy and numeracy, and the cultivation of top technical talent, have resulted in immeasurable economic gains. For the Communist Party, the surge in high school graduates has also increased pressure to provide employment — and brought rising complaints that the system still places rural students at a disadvantage. Admission quotas at universities still greatly favor urban elites, and secondary education in the rural areas is lagging.

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And even as schools like Huining No. So some are opting for another way to get ahead: They apply to join the Communist Party. James Ni is fine with not being a member of the Communist Party. He is a fabulously wealthy private entrepreneur whose company, Mlily, is the official pillow and mattress partner of the English soccer club Manchester United. His goal is for Mlily to become a global brand.

Growing up in a small town in Jiangsu Province, Mr. And once the state did open the door for private entrepreneurs, they faced persistent obstacles — as they still do even today. Ni said. Those who have the right connections have an advantage.

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But in this environment of development and expansion, anyone can find their own way. Today, Mr. Many Chinese executives cozy up to local governments to gain advantages, but Mr. In the long view of Chinese history, it is remarkable how the country now embraces entrepreneurs, given the traditional Confucian condescension toward profit-seeking merchants. To catch up to the West, the party embraced market mechanisms and capitalist ideas not as end in itself but as a means through which to achieve national wealth and power.

Party leaders have always worried that private business could evolve into an independent economic force, and some in the West predicted that capitalism could be a Trojan horse for democratization. Yet though Mr.


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  4. Ni resists joining the party, he is fiercely patriotic, loves China and believes that, ultimately, party leaders want what is best for the country. Party leaders legalized certain private enterprises in and made a historic shift in by accepting capitalists as members of the party itself. Even so, the rules of competition have been tilted in favor of state-owned enterprises. He got into the bedding business after noticing the high prices of memory foam pillows in a shop display. But while state-backed companies could easily get bank loans, Mr. Ni, a private entrepreneur with no credit history, was shut out.

    Instead, Mr.


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