On 29 July 2012, thousands took to the streets after the Hong Kong government announced that by 2015 they would integrate mandatory national-education classes in Hong Kong’s public schools. The government’s plan would not affect international schools where rich families tend to send their children, but it would affect the education of children from the working and middle classes.
Just two weeks before the once-per-decade Communist Party congress to announce the party’s new leadership, farmers in the Zhenhai district of Zhejiang province expressed their concerns about pollution and the increasing number of internal organ diseases and cancer in the area by starting a campaign against the proposed expansion of the Zhenhai Refining & Chemical petrochemical plant. The plant was affiliated with Ningbo Sinopec, a branch of the state-owned Sinopec petroleum company.
On September 30, 2010, an article in People’s Daily, a Communist Party magazine in China, quoted Qiang Wei, Qinghai Province’s party secretary as saying that “mandating Chinese language was crucial” in all schools throughout the province. The majority (around 70%) of the students and teachers that lived in the Qinghai Province was ethnically Tibetan, and many considered themselves Tibetans living in China rather than Chinese citizens. However, the national majority, Han Chinese people, exercised the most authority in the region.
On 29 June 2012, the Shifang government in China’s Sichuan province announced the construction of a molybdenum-copper alloy factory. High school students in the area who were concerned about the factory’s environmental impacts sent the government a petition calling for it to cancel the construction. Reports estimated that the factory would pollute a radius of 60 km, encompassing Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province.
Post-WWI China was fraught with political turbulence and social unrest. The Qing Dynasty was overthrown in 1911 and the Republic of China was instated in its place, ending thousands of years of imperial rule in the country and generating a host of new streams of intellectual and political thought. However, warlords still ruled strong throughout many of the provinces, fueling a chaotic and backwards politics that an emerging intelligentsia sought to change.
During the second half of the 20th century, Chinese society experienced profound and tumultuous changes. Communist rule was declared in 1949, and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s resulted in much social and economic upheaval. Students were particularly hard hit by the changes made during the Cultural Revolution as university funding decreased and education quality deteriorated. Student resentment towards the Communist government was further exacerbated by the practices of nepotism and profiteering among party officials.