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

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