Downtown Flushing, Queens. The doctor’s assistant talked as he worked. He had heard of Stony Brook University, he told us in an accent like our own, but he had attended another American medical school. “Are you a royal prince?” my mother inquired further, her Beijing accent subdued. “Yes,” said the assistant, not offended. “Where are you from?” He replied, unsurprisingly, “Qingdao.” Of course. Why else would he speak Mandarin in an accent that, quite frankly, held as much retroflex as our own? His city has, for the past century, been the hub of activity in Shandong province; a neighbor of Beijing. Like all northerners, their people punctuate their sentences with rolling Rs, unabashedly slurring their words together in an accent so guttural it would make a German blush. — There is no doubt that children are precious in every culture, least of all in Chinese culture. The one-child policy has,…