During the pandemic, China’s coming-of-age youth are resigned to a life of lockdowns, uncertainties, and rising mental anguish. They could not spread their wings at university, and all dreams were left on the sidelines.

China’s university students are finding that their transition from adolescence to adulthood has been stagnated by the nation’s restrictive “zero-COVID” policy, leaving many dismayed and directionless.

Wu Zhiming, a college student, said nearly all of his college life had occurred away from campus as his courses were affected by the COVID lockdown policy. 

As a result, he has had no exposure to the social factors that shape adulthood and hardly associates with any of his classmates.

He said, “Pandemic life has left me with no desire to fight for the future. Now I just want to live a peaceful life without ambition.”

Researchers are warning of the possible long-term implications of what has become a stagnated transition from adolescence to adulthood. In addition, China’s economic shocks profoundly impacted young adults’ choices in life and their careers.

Wu Zhiming pointed out that “zero-COVID” has deprived students of countless opportunities for study and travel. Moreover, it has made him mentally and emotionally deflated, with little to strive for.

This stagnation mentality is common among young Chinese. The CCP also acknowledges its threat to China’s economic growth.

According to Yu Ling-yan, a lecturer at Tsinghua University, young people who have experienced the uncertainties of the pandemic are becoming conservative in their career choices. Many people choose to lie still and avoid stress to live through the day.

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