China: Being and Nothingness

Being and Nothingness

As his life drew near its sordid end, Liu Yong, 22, took to wearing nothing but black. In perhaps a more telling symptom of his decadence, the engineering student and former Communist Youth League officer read the existentialist works of Sartre and Nietzsche, wrote solipsistic essays and handed out calling cards identifying himself as the Count of Monte Cristo. Failing all his courses, he boasted that he would someday be famous. Last March, he knifed a young woman to death and then electrocuted himself.

The latest target in the drive against Western ideas, Liu has become the subject of a write-in...