China dancing baby raises questions of parenting

The Internet exploded last week with videos of this little boy performing on China’s very own BGT style talent show.

The Internet exploded last week with videos of this little boy performing on China’s very own BGT style talent show. Incredibly, this little guy is only three years old, but speaks perfect and very eloquent Chinese, holds himself well and dances like a boss.

Nevertheless, his cuteness and maturity have been overshadowed by concerns about his very robotic, controlled and overly disciplined nature. This comes at time of increasing interest into Chinese parenting and the strict methods they use to raise their children. But can we really take one boy as an example of what to expect from the most recent generations of Chinese people?

Just a viral video?

First and foremost, there’s no denying the incredible skill of Zhang Junhao, and the huge support he gets from his family. The conversations the judges had with him were touching, and showed that he was very aware of his background and what he wants to do with his life.

The show also spent time talking to his mother, a dancer herself, who started taking Junhao out to dance in the public plazas when he was only a few months old. These are the stories that touch us – need I remind you of three year old Heaven, who danced with her Mum on Ellen?

When asked by the judges what his dream was, little Junhao replied that he wants to share his dancing with others, because when he dances it makes him happy and makes other people happy too.

I know, I know. I can’t cope either.

Something not quite right

But, after watching the video several times, I can understand why some people have raised concerns on Twitter about the little boy. As cute as he is, he strikes me as extremely robotic and very controlled, particularly in the way the judges are able to change his actions by using his remote.

While this makes his act very entertaining, the amount of joy they get from making him dance to different songs does eventually come across as quite twisted. He’s clearly a confident kid, unconcerned and not frightened of being on stage, which makes his complete lack of a sense of humour quite disconcerting. The overall impression for a lot of people was that his little boy was ‘programmed,’ and it’s easy to understand where these opinions are coming from.

Communist concerns?

Clearly, we can’t say from watching one video that this boy is a representation of the way all Chinese children are being raised. Current interest in Chinese ‘Tiger Mums’ and the rigid discipline with which they educate their children is bound to encourage speculation around videos like these but, as always, you can’t take any claims of ‘robot children’ too seriously.

Coming from an Oriental background myself, I can understand Junhao’s way of speaking better than most e.g. referring to his boom box as ‘his baby,’ and know that it doesn’t mean he’s been trained to be a commercial robot. Just watch a few Korean dramas and you’ll quickly get the gist.

Like most people, this video did make me a little uncomfortable, even if I did coo over him in some places. Is it taking it too far to say that this video shows that Chinese children will one day take over the world, ‘I, Robot’ style?

Of course it is. But there is a certain rigidness and discipline that Junhao demonstrates that we in the West may never understand.

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.