The video depicted the scene of young people in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, a few months ago. They rushed to buy their dream iPhone 13, which was launched on April 24 last year. However, spending habits and other trends among Chinese youths have been changing recently due to the economic crisis and other reasons.
“One in five of China’s urban youth are unemployed.” “Are the best days behind China now?” These statements and questions are in a report published by CNN. Young Chinese today face not only job-search challenges but also societal survival. In this video, we’ll walk you through each thing they are facing and see what it would be like if they were your family members.
According to Statista, China’s youth unemployment reached almost 20% in July 2022. Although the situation has slightly improved, nearly 18% of young people between 16 and 24 in urban areas of China are still unemployed.
There have been some noteworthy trends among Chinese youth recently.
Young Chinese, especially the ones living in urban areas, are known for their spending habits on luxury goods. They are now keen on consuming used products, taking less stressful jobs, and a phenomenon called the “squatting” lifestyle, which we’ll shortly explain.
The latest trends among Chinese youth
From luxury goods to used products
Faced with current economic and financial challenges, young Chinese decided to change their spending habits, possibly making the sales of secondhand goods on platforms by the end of this year reach $66.4 billion (480.24 billion yuan).
According to Ai Media Consulting, the figure was only about $52 billion (nearly 375 billion yuan) last year.
In addition, the transaction value of these platforms reached nearly $34 billion (about 240 billion yuan). The South China Morning Post (SCMP) cited data from the market research platform 100ec.
Take the fashion industry as an example. Although the economic outlook is uncertain, the used brand bag business seems unaffected.
Some industry insiders told reporters from 8world.com, a Chinese-language media outlet, that the figure increased by at least 10% after the relaxation of anti-epidemic measures. Buyers are also trending younger.
Buyers have been returning to a store that sells used branded bags in the Thompson Building more frequently. Their turnover has increased by 30%, and most buyers are between 18 and 30 years old.
“The bag I want is still the style of the wallet. Maybe I don’t have the bag I want to buy in the store now, because maybe after the season, I may see the bag I want in the secondhand store.”
Nowadays, young Chinese people are buying used products online and offline.
Shanghai-based screenwriter Li Ziqing, 24, ran her university’s secondhand trade group’s WeChat account. Before her graduation, she oversaw the accounts of 500 people. She established this community because students need transparent and inexpensive e-commerce platforms.
Well-known e-commerce giants are involved in the online trade of secondhand items. Last year, Alibaba launched the secondhand trading app Idlefish, which has over 300 million users.
Satisfied with light labor tasks
The zero-COVID policy generated unprecedented economic hardships, causing many young Chinese graduates to apply for the civil service test to secure the state’s safe rice bowl. However, after only a short time there, they regretted their decision.
Wang, a citizen, shares his story on Sixth Tone. At his new job, he expected to earn at least $34,000 (250,000 yuan) per year. In reality, he received only about $3,000. Wang had to work overtime but didn’t receive what recruiters promised him.
Yin Yu, a 25-year-old Sichuan high school teacher, regretted joining the state. The principal greeted the incoming instructors and promised not to take their enthusiasm for granted. However, the principal quickly resigned after the instructors found they had only gotten half their pay after a few months.
Yin is unable to support her family due to a lack of funds. She said being a teacher was wonderful but couldn’t support her mom. Therefore, Yin feels extremely sorrow for her mom.
Under current stress, some young Chinese choose light labor tasks. Many doctoral and master’s degree graduates from reputable schools shift to jobs that don’t require a high degree of expertise, such as elementary and middle school teachers, health care workers, and even positions as grocery store managers.
Pear, a Chongqing native with a degree in technology and modern funeral administration, posted videos of her internship at a cemetery.
According to the student, this is a perfect workplace. The surroundings are lovely, and the office, dormitory, and canteen are usually peaceful. Furthermore, the personnel gets along well with their supervisors. The girl told the reporter that she was pleased with her current employment and that there was no labor shortage at the company.
Some netizens said it was hard to find a job. They urgently need money and working at a cemetery is not bad. According to these netizens, living people are sometimes worse than the dead. Meanwhile, others said this job was the best in terms of interpersonal relationships, labor intensity, and working environment.
Some other netizens have to do labor work that almost no one wants to do. A young female citizen in Guangzhou shared her story on Youtube a few months ago. She couldn’t find a job, so she picked up trash and sold them for a few dollars for a living.
0:28-0:32: I picked up so much garbage in the first round and picked up a few cups.
0:41-0:45: Now go find the second trash can.
0:52 There are also some empty boxes in here, oh, quite a lot of empty boxes, this kind of empty boxes.
0:57-1:03: Okay, go to the next trash can to continue!
1:08 Oops, since I have to be reduced to picking up garbage for a living. This is my first time picking up garbage, oh!
1:12 There is also a bottle here, oh!
1:54 I ran to Guangzhou for nothing, did not find a job, and now even dinner is a problem.
2:00 I can only go to the garbage can to see if there are these bottles ah, plastic cups ah, maybe sell a few dollars ah! 2:13
Is the “squatting” lifestyle the most suitable for young Chinese?
In China’s major cities, the following phenomenon is gradually emerging. Its “Dunzu” living style means “squat” in Chinese.
In an article entitled “True Story Project,” a group of highly educated but unemployed young Chinese are called “squatters.” According to the Q&A platform Zhihu, these people rent a house in a prestigious city but can’t go home or just stay home all day, play video games, and have nothing to do. They have lost their passion.
Creaders.net cited a report last year that the phenomenon has spread to lower tiers cities. This is the mindset of the ‘squatters.’
Some people leave their hometowns and live in apartments in big cities. They didn’t have to worry about food or clothing. They’ve saved a little for finances or received some money from their parents. On the other hand, many people believe they have good hands. Therefore, they play hard but don’t need to work hard or make any progress.
Xiao Xing graduated from a university with 985 projects in the northwest. This project promotes the Chinese higher education system, as called for by Jiang Zemin. She had an interview with Half Moon News.
0:00 No one can force me to work as long as I don’t spend money!
0:03 Xiao Xing graduated from a 985 university in the northwest. She told Half Moon News that she had thought about working for a well-known internet company when she graduated.
0:11 She saved money to buy a house, but because she was frustrated with her job search. She changed her concept and thought that it would be better to squat at home if she couldn’t find the ideal job.
0:17 The mentality also changed from going forward to lying flat on the ground.
So, why do young Chinese choose this lifestyle?
One of the reasons they choose to squat is that they want a more extended vacation. Moreover, they have not found a meaningful job that matches their interests and their family’s exaggerated expectations.
A team led by Ju Fasheng, a postgraduate student of higher education at Nanjing University, conducted participatory observations in these groups for half a year. They collected data and 8 interviews about this living style. Two of them have been reported in the Chinese media Creaders.net.
The first story is of a 24-year-old boy who graduated from 985 college. His father is a civil servant, and his mom works in a hospital. This person was seeking jobs but either failed the interview or the job didn’t match his wishes. So, he ordered takeout and spent most of his time lying at home, playing games, and surfing the internet after his parents went to work.
Another interviewee had been ‘squatting’ for more than half a year. The 28-year-old citizen graduated from a college in 211 project that contains over 100 famous schools in China. He moved out because his parents always complained that he was not working to take the postgraduate examinations. Moreover, he has often changed jobs for the salary or to avoid dealing with complicated interpersonal relationships.
Given the high cost of education and housing, Zhao raised the first two questions regarding how people should live and if they should follow the current lifestyle. According to her, people start the race in kindergarten, face the 996 when looking for jobs, and finally buy a house.
Thirdly, Zhao raised inquiries on an industrial level. She wonders what to do with the manufacturing field when fewer young Chinese at the bottom are unwilling to work, how to create more chances for China’s economy, and what the best way to live a meaningful life is.
Government’s total authoritarianism—The possible root of current trends among young Chinese
According to the American Purpose media, China has become less democratic and free. The country is now more authoritarian. As reported, the Chinese regime dismissed the idea of universal values and freedom as the idea of the West seeking world domination.
The recent state media poll at the 20th National Party Congress is a worth noting event. The Chinese government said that Chinese youth no longer prefer Western countries and values. They even look down on these values.
The poll was published by the state-backed media Global Times on October 21. Only 3.9% of young Chinese people chose to “look up” to the West this year, a drop from 8.1% last year. As mentioned in the article, more than half of China’s young people believe that China outperforms the West in terms of security and human rights.
However, many Chinese students studying abroad told Chinese language media Xin Tang Ren that China’s official media polls cannot be trusted.
James Wang, an international student from Florida, claimed that the Chinese government advertised that more than 90% of the Chinese people support the regime. In fact, James said this self-confidence was a part of its inferiority complex.
Li Yuanhua, a Chinese historian living in Australia, said that Chinese youth’s responses to questionnaires might not reflect their true thoughts under their totalitarian system. He said the survey itself was provocative and combative.
According to Foreign Policy, totalitarians demand citizens to abandon sentimental ties to established institutions in favor of an ideology of state power. The Chinese government has played a negative role for the young generation, specifically in education, as the key foundation of one’s success.
Regarding the actual outcomes, Qian Liqun, senior professor at the Chinese Department of Peking University, said that primary and secondary education has a long-term impact on one’s life. As a result, what the Chinese regime has done to education has undoubtedly impacted children’s education and prospects. Some internet users have made comments.
Furthermore, a netizen claims that students lose their ambition at a young age. When you ask a typical Chinese high school student why he needs to study, his answer is usually limited to getting into a good college.
Concerning the above information, can the current trends among young Chinese possibly serve the Party’s purpose in social engineering and management?