‘The Last Generation’: Disillusionment of Chinese Youth


Four years ago, many young Chinese liked to use the hashtag #.amazing china.

Two years ago, they urged the rest of the world, particularly the United States, to “copy China’s homework”, saying China is an “A” student in epidemic control.

Many now believe that we are the most unfortunate generation since the 1980s. It is difficult to find a job. Frequent corona tests affect their lives. Governments are putting more and more restrictions on individual liberties while forcing them to marry and have more children.

“I can’t stand the thought of dying here,” said Cheng Xinyu, a 19-year-old writer from the southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu, who was thinking of emigrating abroad before the government’s iron fist. Her fists fall on her.

She can’t even imagine having children in China.

“I love children, but I can’t take them here because I can’t protect them,” she said, citing concerns like epidemic control workers breaking into apartments, spraying disinfectant, killing pets and asking residents to leave their homes. no,” he said. The key to the apartment door lock.

Ms. Cheng said, “run philosophy,” or “runxue,” preaches fleeing from China in search of a safer, brighter future. She and millions of others have also reposted it. video A young man protested against a police officer who warned that his family would face three generations if he refused to go to quarantine. “This generation will be our last,” he told the police.

His reaction later became a censored online meme. Many young people shared this feeling, saying they would be reluctant to have children under an increasingly authoritarian government.

Before the censorship, a Weibo user wrote under the hashtag #thelastgeneration, “Not bringing children to this country would be the most charitable thing I could do.” Another Weibo user wrote: “As ordinary people who do not deserve personal dignity, our genitals will be a last resort.”

‘Running philosophy’ and ‘last generation’ are the cry of many Chinese in their 20s and 30s who are desperate for their homeland and future. They are deciding whether to enter the workforce, get married, and have children at one of the country’s darkest moments in decades. Some censored and politically oppressed are considering voting by foot, while others want to protest by not having children.

This is a significant departure for members of a generation previously known as nationalistic tendencies.

They grew up as China emerged as the world’s second-largest economy. They ridiculed critics of Beijing’s human rights record and boycotted many Western brands for their contemptuous perceptions of their homeland.

Sometimes they complained about a tough work schedule and lack of social mobility. However, if he was not sure about his personal future, he was convinced that China would be great again, as promised by the supreme leader.

This spring, it became increasingly clear that the government could not keep its promises and that the country had different expectations of life.

new survey We found that out of more than 20,000 people, mostly women between the ages of 18 and 31, two-thirds do not want to have children. Governments have other agendas to press people to have three children to rejuvenate one of the world’s fastest aging populations.

Doris Wang, a young professional in Shanghai, said he had no plans to have children in China. She has reaffirmed her decision as she has been living through harsh lockdowns over the past two months. She said the children should be playing with each other in nature, but locked in her apartment, she will be tested for COVID-19, yelled by epidemic control agents and heard stern announcements from street megaphones, she said.

“I feel very depressed, hopeless and unhealthy, not to mention the adults and the children,” she said. “They’ll definitely have psychological problems that need to be addressed as they grow up,” she said. She said she plans to migrate to Western countries for a normal life and dignity.

Adding to the frustration, the headlines are full of bad news about jobs. The number of Chinese university graduates this year is expected to surpass 10 million, a record high. However, many companies are laying off or freezing their headcount to survive closures and regulatory crackdowns.

Recruitment site Zhaopin.com, establish The employment prospects index in the first quarter of this year was half the same as in the same period last year, and it was much lower than in 2020, when the COVID-19 first appeared. Graduates who sign the offer will receive a 12% reduction in their average monthly salary. last year company report.

A growing number of college graduates are looking to either go on to graduate school or pass the highly competitive civil service exam for a secure job.

According to the government, in April, two-thirds of 131 civil servants in Beijing’s Chaoyang District had master’s or doctoral degrees. documentincreasing reflection tendency. They have graduated from top universities in China and around the world, including Peking University, University of Hong Kong, University of Sydney and Imperial College London. Many of them will be carrying out the most basic government jobs that high school graduates have done.

According to the report, anyone with a PhD in particle physics from Peking University will become a city manager or official. Cheonggwan is most swear Officials known for brutally abusing beggars, chasing street vendors and helping to demolish people’s homes. The contrast is too rich.

One bright spot in the job market is the corona test. As Beijing adheres to its zero-corona policy, local governments need more people to staff numerous test stations. Henan Province, Central China said In January of this year, it plans to educate 50,000 people this year in the areas of COVID-19 testing, disinfection, and public hygiene management. However, government-run news sites asked What kind of job prospects these jobs offer after the pandemic?

The increasingly stringent social controls for young Chinese are equally depressing.

Some students from Changchun, northeastern Jilin province, complained on social media that they could not shower or use public baths for more than 40 days after the city was shut down.

According to a system document reviewed by The New York Times, Shanghai’s Tongji University, known for its engineering and architecture programs, has published detailed guidelines on how to use cell phone-based queuing systems for toilets and restrooms.

Each student must press “Start” when leaving the dormitory for the bathroom, and “Stop” when returning to avoid having two people in the hallway at the same time. Each toilet is allowed a maximum of 10 minutes. After eight minutes, others in the queue can digitally poke the student in the toilet. After 10 minutes, the student must explain to the group in the queue why it is taking so long.

Some social control mechanisms have not been lifted.

In 2020, Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University developed a tracking system that allows students to register their daily health status and real-time location. It is similar to the system developed by some countries, including South Korea, for the monitoring of short-term home and hotel quarantines of travelers. Fudan students had to register with the system every day, even during a year and a half when there were few infections in China. Otherwise, you will not be able to enter the campus following the step-by-step registration process reviewed by The New York Times.

The university has little tolerance for acts of disobedience.

Sun Jian, a graduate student at Rudong University in eastern Shandong Province, was expelled from the campus at the end of March, carrying signs saying “Unlock Ludong”. He was also warned by the police for disturbing public order.

A university student in Shanghai said her advisors were able to track her down for critical Weibo comments she made about the closure, even though she used a pseudonym. She told me to delete the post.

It’s impossible to gauge how many Chinese were disillusioned with the government’s iron fist in the recent lockdown that affected hundreds of millions of people. Beijing has full control over the propaganda media, the internet, textbooks, schools, and almost every aspect that could touch the brainwaves of the Chinese public.

But the growing online disillusionment is undoubtedly. And people will always find a way to avoid oppression. In “1984” Winston wrote a diary. In “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, Tomáš and Tereza moved to the countryside.

M. Wang, a young professional in Shanghai, said, “When you find that you as an individual have absolutely no ability to stand up to the state apparatus, the only way out is to run away.”

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