War with the Internet Demon: Shock-and-awe of China's youth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter seeks to contextualize and interpret a literally shocking incident which occurred in 'reforming' and 'modernizing' China. This incident can be posed as two questions: (1) How could Yang Yongxin, an unqualified and uncertified psychiatrist, working under the protective umbrella of a government-run hospital, misuse electroshock therapy on 3,000 adolescents as a 'cure' for an unrecognized psychiatric condition labelled 'Internet addiction'? (2) How could parents willingly take their beloved only child to this institution to be subjected to a punishmentbased illegal practice that international law would categorize as torture? The answer, I argue, is only partly to be to be found in the misuse of psychiatry and science. To unravel this mystery of using electroshocks as a form of punishment to deal with youth deviance requires travelling back to the ideology of Maoist political socialization. But first we need to journey retrospectively through the Bush administration's 'shock-and-awe' military doctrine, and then detour to recent cases in China involving shock-and-awe (e.g., Bo Xilai, Ai Weiwei, Chen Guangcheng). To help provide further explanatory power, Kafka and Orwell join this journey through the 'war with the Internet demon'.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCrime and the Chinese Dream
PublisherHong Kong University Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Electronic)9789888455119
ISBN (Print)9789888208661
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018


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