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Oddly Enough

Chinese kids grown-up for a day

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 01:56

Mar 24 - Chinese children try their hand at catching criminals, extinguishing fires and flying planes at a virtual city aimed at getting them to think about their future careers. Tara Cleary reports.

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Five-year-old Qin Shiyue is on his way to catch a criminal. He and a posse of fellow child cops armed with toy pistols are getting a crash course in arresting a suspect. SOUNDBITE: 5-year-old Qin Shiyue, saying (Mandarin): "I took this handgun and handcuffs, and used the handcuffs to bind the criminal's hands together so he couldn't get them apart. Then the criminal ran away so I took this gun and aimed it at him." It's all part of a new Beijing theme park which gives children a taste of potential adult careers. The 18,000 square metre complex has over 80 trial workstations that offer everything from commercial jet pilot training to fire fighting. And parents think it's great preparation for China's notoriously competitive job market. SOUNDBITE: Mother Wang Ting, saying (Mandarin): "When I first heard of this centre I felt it was a place I'd been dreaming about since I was young. It's like an enormous version of a playhouse. The children can select different jobs and get a feeling for each one, and perhaps they can get a sense of what their future profession might be like." The centre even offers niche jobs like performing magic and running a frozen yogurt franchise. Weekend tickets are 200 yuan or 30 U.S. dollars per child, while a two year pass costs 6,800 yuan or 1,000 dollars. The center's pièce de résistance is a full-size Air China passenger plane containing a mini flight school where diminutive pilots can try their hand at a simulated landing at a Shanghai airport. And with plans to open similar projects in other cities, thousands of Chinese children may soon be getting plenty of early career training. Tara Cleary, Reuters.

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Chinese kids grown-up for a day

Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 01:56