Looking through old text messages on my phone I was reminded of something Andrew had passed on to me from a mutual student we've taught:
"Oh, Dolly [classmate] is very afraid to see our headmaster, you know the self-criticism only has 3,000 [characters], not 10,000, so she had to write the rest. She is very busy these days! Terrible!"
A self-criticism (自我批评) is a very Communist Chinese phenomenon that I know of mostly through its use during the Cultural Revolution, when as part of the political paranoia of the time people were obligated to make criticisms of themselves and their failings to uphold the ideals of the Communist Party, or in more extreme cases to confess their "counter-revolutionary" crimes. At that time this was often done in an atmosphere of intimidation and threats. Mao on self-criticism: "Conscientious practice of self-criticism is still another hallmark distinguishing our Party from all other political parties. As we say, dust will accumulate if a room is not cleaned regularly, our faces will get dirty if they are not washed regularly. Our comrades' minds and our Party's work may also collect dust, and also need sweeping and washing." Recently the governor of Shanxi province in northern China publicly made a self-criticism for the slave labor scandal in which hundreds of people had been kidnapped and forced to work in illegal brick kilns.
I never did find out what my student got in trouble for or what she had to write about. Another curious feature of Chinese education.