As daunting employment prospects continue to haunt Chinese youth, disappointment in the ruling Communist Party is growing among the country’s new adults.
During China’s recent protests, youngsters have been the dominating group. 21-year-old Mandy Liu from Beijing told the New York Times people rallied because they felt the unemployment threat was growing.
Liu is graduating from university next year. She has applied for more than 80 positions, but no employer has responded.
In July this year, China’s youth unemployment rate in urban areas climbed to 19.9% before dropping to 18.7% in the following month. For comparison, the overall jobless rate in China was around 5%. Meanwhile, the country will have around 11.6 million new college graduates entering the job market in 2023.
As the Times reminded, the Chinese economy was already ailing from the real estate crisis before the pandemic curbs. Competition for government positions and admittance to graduate programs has only intensified after Beijing ramped up regulations on booming sectors such as private education and technology.
Chief economist at the Mercator Institute for China Studies, Max Zenglein, said frustration with the government grew as a good education did not secure a good future as promised by the party.
Zenglein commented, “The promise was if you educate yourself, you will get a good-paying job. That is no longer materializing.”
Sure enough, Liu, the Beijing student, said her generation is being left disillusioned after trusting the government. At present, she said what they saw was people are struggling to survive.
For graduates who manage to find a job, they are conforming to less pay. In a poll by the Chinese job portal Zhaopin, the average monthly wage of college graduates employed in 2022 was 13% lower than that of graduates in 2021.
Elsa Han, 21, is applying for a position roughly 100 others are also eyeing. She told the Times she plans to travel overseas if she can’t get employed. Considering the current environment in China, Han is pessimistic.
Shen said, “I don’t think I’m living a happy life.”
Assistant professor Marina Rudyak from the University of Heidelberg told DW China’s current generation is seeing their prospects of economic freedom, welfare, and their personal development shrinking persistently.
She stated, “For them, the promise of the party taking care of them has been shattered.”
The growing discontentment is also raising awareness about those suppressed by the Communist party.
Rudyak said, “I’ve been hearing from my students, they say, ‘Now we understand why the people in Hong Kong were on the streets, and we feel sorry that we didn’t support them back then.’”