Yang Sen is one of my teenage students. He comes from Zhuxi, a satellite county of the city. While doing a small talk last semester he amused us by imitating the Cantonese. The few Cantonese phrases he modelled sounded good and we laughed a lot over them.


Mr. Yang’s war has nothing to do the Cantonese phrases he produced, though.




Mr. Yang had a good friend when he was in middle school back in his home county town. The two friends trusted each other. Unluckily his friend was in trouble with another boy and a fight resulted from the row. After the fight, one of the boys, not Mr. Yang’s friend though, was expelled from school. Mr. Yang and his friend continued their middle school as normal.


The story did not end here. While Mr. Yang and his pal were in Grade Three, middle school, the boy who had been kicked out came back to settle accounts with Mr. Yang’s pal. The war between them went on and off over the last year of middle school.


In the beginning, Mr. Yang would not join in the fights. But after some battles, he felt that as a good friend he should be on his pal’s side. So the battle started to go on between two enemy gangs. Each gang had about 10 members. I bet some fights were fierce and real. They were not kid games. Probably the youths used weapons like a stick or a knife.


The war was brought to an end by a victory on the side of Mr. Yang and his pal over the rival group. Mr. Yang was actually wounded in the head and blood was lost.


Does Mr. Yang regret getting involved in the teenage warfare? No, not at all. On the contrary, he is still proud of their victory. He declared in his journal that friendship between the two was even deeper than ever after the war. “I love this lifestyle,” he said.


Through the last year of middle school, Mr. Yang’s teachers were not aware of what was going on between the two groups. And the two groups agreed to keep adults out of the game. And they did settle their own accounts.




Generally speaking, Chinese teenagers are not into gang culture. This is in black-and-white contrast to rampancy of teenage gangs in some western societies, like the UK. However, I bet gang culture will pick up on this land. The living standards are getting higher. The kids are better nourished, much stronger and better informed than teens of the past generations. And they access info by all kinds of means, especially through the Internet. Therefore they are open and seek independence and expression of their identity. Gangs will be one of the platforms where they assert themselves and declare who they are and what they stand for.


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