An American fashion designer who spent 16 years in Shanghai published an essay in the New York Times highlighting the virtues of raising her children under the watchful and authoritarian eye of the Chinese government.
Heather Kaye, 49, arrived in Shanghai in 2006 with her husband George and planned to stay for a year. But the couple stayed and eventually raised their two daughters there. However, in 2022, the family was forced to return to the US after living under that country’s draconian COVID-19 policy for two years.
Now she has described her return to Washington DC as a ‘culture shock’ which has made her miss the way her children were ‘raised by the Chinese government’.
Still, her own remarks will come as a shock to many worried about the looming threat the Chinese government poses both domestically and to the global economy, technology and businesses.
In October last year, it turned out to be communist party manages secret police stations in New York hunt down dissidents and force them to return to China, while those protesting the country’s COVID-free policy were known to disappear without explanation.
Heather Kaye spent 16 years in Shanghai and published an essay in the New York Times extolling the virtues of raising her children with the Chinese government as a co-parent
In 2022, her family returned to the US after living under the country’s draconian COVID-19 policies for two years.
Kaye acknowledged the ways in which the Chinese Communist Party would intrude into family life, whether it was controlling what her children ate or dictating the number of hours they should sleep at night.
“In China, state co-parenting begins in the womb,” she wrote, referring to restrictions on the number of children parents are allowed to have, which have since been eased.
She added that not long after enrolling her children in public schools, it began to control how her children should live.
“The Chinese kindergarten lectured us on everything, including how many hours our daughters should sleep, what they should eat and what the optimal weight is,” she said.
But she claims that she is grateful for the discipline instilled in her two daughters, born in 2008 and 2010, at the school.
She said: ‘Every morning, all the students performed gymnastics in straight rows and raised the red flag of China while singing the national anthem.’
And she praised the Chinese system for independently ‘instilling a strong work ethic and full pursuit of academic excellence’, teaching them that hard work leads to results.
Kaye also said she was grateful for the way turning over parts of their children’s lives to the state lessened the burden on her and her husband — and wished American parents would see the value in doing the same.
‘I learned to appreciate a strong sense of shared values and people connected as a nation. Parenting, like governing, is an imperfect art,’ she added.
Kaye admitted that the Chinese Communist Party was quick to impose itself on her children, but she didn’t mind
“Every morning all the students performed gymnastics in straight lines and raised the Chinese red flag while singing the national anthem,” Kaye wrote.
Kaye also saw merit in Chinese censorship. ‘Raising children in China was a plus in other ways – like heavy censorship,’ she wrote.
The government imposed limits on how much time her children could spend playing video games and this saved them from accessing problematic material online.
Not only that, but state surveillance would protect the daughters as they navigate Shanghai’s sprawling, but relatively safe, according to Kaye, subway system.
Despite all this, Kaye was forced to leave China, after living through its zero-epidemic approach to COVID that kept them at home for two months and limited to government food rations.
But even when the family left, they retained their admiration for the country and the life they could make there.
In a story covering her family’s departure from Shanghai in 2022, she told Reuters: ‘Anything you can imagine, you can build here. Whatever you want to be, you can make it happen here.’
A recent report by the human rights organization Safeguard Defenders revealed that the Chinese Communist Party has at least 54 ‘police stations abroad’ in 30 different countries, including across the US.
Since launching that program in April 2021, China has reported that it has ‘convinced’ 230,000 Chinese nationals to return home.
Safeguard Defenders campaign manager Laura Harth claims China is using it to track down dissidents and force them to return home.