School's out? Tuition curbs pile on the anxiety for China's parents

In Beijing's exclusive Haidian district, Zhao says she ploughs $10,000 a year into extra classes for her eight-year-old, a leg up in the competitive scramble of modern China -- and an advantage the state now wants to restrict.

As they scythe down oversized businesses, Chinese authorities say the vast tutoring sector has to turn non-profit, effectively wiping out the business models of education companies that have spun billions from the anxieties of China's parents.

But last weekend's edict by the State Council has drawn scepticism from Haidian's parents, who are normally sure-footed as they plot their child's path to university.

"Without extra classes, it might become difficult to keep up," lamented Zhao, a 42-year-old mother giving only her surname, of the prospects of her child who is taking extra classes in Chinese, English and mathematics.

The move to non-profit status -- and a ban on teaching core subjects on weekends and during holidays -- aims to ease pressure on pupils and curb high education costs, authorities said.