The Christian Science Monitor

Beijing club promises parents it will make their boys into men

Teams of preteen boys toting plastic laser-tag assault rifles take up position on their mock battleground, a street strewn with abandoned cars and debris.

“Start!” yells a trainer, unleashing a staccato of laser fire.

Eight-year-old Li Yuanhao, captain of the “Justice” team, takes two boys to hide behind a pile of garbage, directing others to distract the enemy. Ten minutes later, he has survived.

“I feel I learned a lot today,” Yuanhao beams, proud that he shot 10 opponents.

This is the “Beijing True Boys’ Club,” a for-profit group dedicated to training “manly” boys. There aren’t many like it, and plenty of people find its philosophy damaging – but here in China, the concerns that prompted it are common.

Today, the country’s boys are the subject of heated debate. Decades of family-planning restrictions have left China with about 115 boys born for every 100 girls, many of them their parents’ only children, and stereotypes about pampered “little

‘Who wants to be a soldier?’Costly boot campsBeyond boys

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Christian Science Monitor

The Christian Science Monitor4 min readPolitics
Russian Internet Giant Yandex Takes Rare Stand Against State Snooping
Internet company Yandex is key to Russian economic success, but it has encryption keys that the FSB wants. Can Russia balance security and economy?
The Christian Science Monitor4 min read
Habitat Meets Profit As Ranchers Restore Native Prairies
Restoring prairie pasture can improve water retention, provide wildlife habitat, and sequester carbon in the soil. It also can boost ranchers’ profit.
The Christian Science Monitor4 min readFashion & Beauty
Why This Company Wants Your Old Underwear
Will recycling textiles save the planet? Buying less and wearing your clothes longer might accomplish more.