Drawing from personal experience, the reason why I don't feel this works is because I've seen an outcome that Amy Chua, the author fails to address or perhaps has yet to experience.
My big sister was what I used to jealously call "every Asian parents wet dream come true" (excuse the crassness, but it really does sum up the resentment I used to feel towards her). She got straight As. Skipped 5th grade. Perfect SAT score. Varsity swim team. Student council. Advanced level piano. Harvard early admission. An international post with the Boston Consulting Group in Hong Kong before returning to the U.S. for her Harvard MBA. Six figure salary. Oracle. Peoplesoft. Got engaged to a PhD. Bought a home. Got married.
Her life summed up in one paragraph above.
Her death summed up in one paragraph below.
Committed suicide a month after her wedding at the age of 30 after hiding her depression for 2 years. She ran a plastic tube from the tailpipe of her car into the window. Sat there and died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the garage of her new home in San Francisco. Her husband found her after coming home from work. A post-it note stuck on the dashboard as her suicide note saying sorry and that she loved everyone.
Unfortunately, this is not simply an anecdote...
It is wrong, however, to categorize strict parenting as "Chinese." While it may be true that there is a strand, by no means definitive or exclusive, of Chinese tradition that calls for strict parenting, we should remember that such attitudes are by no means particular to Chinese history and culture. "Spare the rod, spoil the child," is not a Chinese saying. Furthermore, such a simple formulation as "Chinese mother" can hardly capture the range of parenting experiences of Chinese-Americans (and we must remember that Chua's experience is that of a second generation Chinese-American). Yes, there are strict Chinese mothers. But there are others who are disgusted by Chua's approach.
Instead of "Chinese," I would argue that Chua is a Legalist mother, drawing her practice from that strand of Chinese tradition and philosophy that emphasizes clear laws and strict punishments. Han Feizi comes to mind right away, and this statement of his seems to get at what Chua is striving for with her kids:
In a strict household there are on unruly slaves, but the children of a kindly mother often turn out bad. (125)
In its most extreme form, during the Qin dynasty, Legalism turned out to be so brutal and dehumanizing that it inspired an uprising that overthrew the dynasty. Perhaps Chua should be a bit more attentive to the negative consequences of overly strict rule.
Compare this to Mencius. Of course, Mencius was canonized after the Qin dyansty, but Legalism did not disappear: harsh punishment always lurked in the background of Chinese Confucianism during and after the Han dynasty. And this was true for Confucian parenting as well as Confucian governance. But Mencius, sans the Legalist appropriations, suggests a much more supportive and humane approach. Here, after mentioning the "affection between father and son" (which we can understand more generally as parenting), he favorably quotes the sage-king Yao:
Encourage them and reward them. Help them and perfect them. Support them and give them wings, and reveal them to themselves. Then you will bring Integrity alive in them. (5.4 )
This suggests the use of positive inducements, as opposed to negative punishments, and could point to a very different parenting posture than Chua's.
Indeed, Mencius's mother is rather famous herself, known in legend to have moved three times when Mencius was young to find the best environment for his education. She eventually settled next to a school so he would be encouraged daily in his studies. She also gently guided him to keep at it. But she did not micro-manage his life to the extent that Chua does her children's.
Chua, then, is not really a "Chinese mother," nor is she a "Mencian mother." Rather she is a Legalist mother - and we'll just have to wait and see if the peasants eventually revolt as they did against Qin.