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World How China’s youth are shunning the rat race

04:20  14 june  2021
04:20  14 june  2021 Source:   bbc.com

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In China , the rat race begins almost the minute you are born - from getting into a good school to getting that prestigious job. But millions now want to break free of this cycle, with two words shedding a light on the frustration felt by the younger generation. However, when he started his own restaurant business in 2018, Sun Ke soon realized that big franchises and delivery platforms already dominated the market. He was too late to the race . "To compete with others on delivery apps, my business partner and I had to take money out of our own pockets to waive the delivery fee and give discounts to clients.

How China ’ s youth are shunning the rat race 10.

In China, the rat race begins almost the minute you are born - from getting into a good school to getting that prestigious job. But millions now want to break free of this cycle, with two words shedding a light on the frustration felt by the younger generation.

When Sun Ke graduated from college in 2017, he went to Shanghai to pursue a dream shared by many from his generation - a good career, a car, perhaps even a house.

The 27-year-old didn't expect it to be very difficult. His parents managed to start from scratch on their own, and now own several properties in their hometown, a small town near Shanghai.

However, when he started his own restaurant business in 2018, Sun Ke soon realized that big franchises and delivery platforms already dominated the market. He was too late to the race.

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China like us does not have a union system. They only rely ccp to do the best for them. The real problem is that there is no union to keep in balance of all these things. Why amdk can work 9 to 5 and earn big bucks? Because they have labour union to support them. China like us does not have a union system.

According to Chinese tradition, 2020 is the 'Year of the Rat '. Rob has decided to dedicate his life to work, chasing promotions and pay rises at the expense of his free time. Learn a rat -related expression which describes this lifestyle, and find out why Rob’ s glued whiskers to his cheeks in The English We Speak. I earn all this money but I never have enough time to spend it! It’ s just work, work, work! People complain about the rat race , but if you earn enough, you can retire at 50! Nieves decided to quit the rat race after she had a serious health scare. She realised that the money wasn’t worth the stress.

"To compete with others on delivery apps, my business partner and I had to take money out of our own pockets to waive the delivery fee and give discounts to clients. And the real money makers are still those big franchises."

After two years, he ended up losing more than 1 million yuan ($156,907, £110,169). Late last year, he shut the business for good.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: China is home to some 600 million people whose monthly income is barely 1,000 yuan ($154). © Getty Images China is home to some 600 million people whose monthly income is barely 1,000 yuan ($154).

He said his experience was typical of "involution" in China today.

The involuted generation

Originally an anthropological term, "involution", or "neijuan" in Chinese - literally translated to an inward curling - refers to a social concept where population growth does not result in productivity or improved innovation.

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According to Chinese tradition, 2020 is the 'Year of the Rat '. Rob has decided to dedicate his life to work, chasing promotions and pay rises at the expense of his free time. Learn a rat -related expression which describes this lifestyle, and find out why Rob’ s glued whiskers to his cheeks in The English We Speak. I earn all this money but I never have enough time to spend it! It’ s just work, work, work! People complain about the rat race , but if you earn enough, you can retire at 50! Nieves decided to quit the rat race after she had a serious health scare. She realised that the money wasn’t worth the stress.

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Today, the term is broadly used to express a feeling of burn out.

The trend started from the most elite university campuses in the country when pictures of students taking hard work to the extreme went viral on the internet last year. In one of the photos, one student from Tsinghua University was operating on his laptop while riding a bike.

The student was crowned as "Tsinghua's Involuted King", and the idea of involution began trending across China's young generation, resonating especially with millennials born after the 1990s and Gen Z.

On the county's social media platform Weibo, hashtags related to involution have been viewed more than 1 billion times. It was also included in a popular chart of China's top 10 buzzwords last year.

"The young continue to feel if they don't work hard or participate in competitions they will be ousted by society, but they don't see a breakthrough for themselves despite their repeated efforts," said Professor Biao Xiang from the University of Oxford.

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According to Chinese tradition, 2020 is the 'Year of the Rat '. Rob has decided to dedicate his life to work, chasing promotions and pay rises at the expense of his free time. Learn a rat -related expression which describes this lifestyle, and find out why Rob’ s glued whiskers to his cheeks in The English We Speak. I earn all this money but I never have enough time to spend it! It’ s just work, work, work! People complain about the rat race , but if you earn enough, you can retire at 50! Nieves decided to quit the rat race after she had a serious health scare. She realised that the money wasn’t worth the stress.

“This is not just about confronting or taking on China ,” the top official said. “But until now we haven’t offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards and our way of doing business.” According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the “important initiative” is much needed in Africa. The G7 members also didn’t specify an implementation time. China ’ s BRI, dubbed the 21st century Silk Road project, was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping eight years ago. The major project involves development and investment initiatives that would stretch from Asia to Europe and beyond.

"Our parents' generation had their [challenges], but also their opportunities. Everything was new. As long as you had ideas and courage, there was a very good chance of succeeding," said Sun Ke.

The concept is not one that's unique to China. Most developed countries in the world have arguably had a generation that has lived through this period of boom.

But the key difference is that in China, these "golden times" have passed so quickly that it is still in fresh in people's memories.

This means the young generation like Sun Ke have witnessed the success of their parents - seeing them build their own wealth from scratch.

"Their parents or some neighbours who are just 10 years older than them could reap that much profit by just going to this business, but now that window has closed, they don't have that possibility anymore," said Dr Fang Xu of the University of California, Berkeley.

Frustration against the rich

China now has the second highest number of billionaires in the world. But it's also home to some 600 million people whose monthly income is barely 1,000 yuan ($154).

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The huge disparity has led to an increasing resentment from the young against their employers. And there's a growing sense amongst the young that their struggles aren't understood by those at the top.

Su Mang, a businesswoman and former editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar China, received fierce backlash after she said that involution was a "gulf between one's desire and laziness".

She later apologised, but the damage had already been done.

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"If bosses could relate to people who work for them, 996 won't exist, neither will involution," one user commented, referring to a culture in China's business world of working 9am to 9pm, six days a week.

"Capitalists should just shut up," others wrote.

Jack Ma wearing a suit and tie sitting in a chair: Jack Ma is an advocate of this 996 culture © Getty Images Jack Ma is an advocate of this 996 culture

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'Lie flat' - an option not allowed

But another concept has now emerged - that of "lying flat" or "tang ping" in Mandarin.

It began after a forum user stated that although he had not been working for the past two years, he did not see this as a problem - very much going against the traditional definition of success in China.

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He argued that there was no need to follow society's ideals.

"Only by lying flat can one become the measure of all things," he wrote - and thus the concept of "lying flat" was born.

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The idea behind "tang ping" - not overworking, being content with more attainable achievements and allowing time to unwind - has been praised by many and inspired numerous memes. It has been described as a spiritual movement.

Professor Xiang from Oxford suggested that these trends show the younger generation's desire to "give up meaningless competitions" and a need to rethink the old models of success.

Many young Chinese have echoed the idea of exiting the rat race, but experts say it might be hard for this concept to become widely adopted - as authorities might find it goes against socialist values.

In a speech in 2018, China's President Xi has said the new era "belongs to those who work hard", and "happiness can only be achieved through great endeavours".

a group of police officers riding on the back of a motorcycle: Motorcycle delivery workers wearing protective facemasks wait for orders along a street in Shanghai © Getty Images Motorcycle delivery workers wearing protective facemasks wait for orders along a street in Shanghai

State media have also taken offence to the concept of "lying flat". In one article published on Guang Ming Daily, a newspaper specialising in cultural matters, the author criticized the "lie-flatists" as possibly harmful to the country's economy and society as a whole.

In another commentary from Nanfang Daily, the writer called the latest trend "unjust and shameful".

However, Dr Xu adds that she does not see these trends going away.

"Sadly I would say the next five to ten years will still be like this, because there's no technological big evolutions industrial-wise, so there's no new fields for them to explore and grow," Dr Xu added. "The result is involution will continue."

In the West, the young generation may choose to live off the grid or live a minimalist lifestyle, but in China - these aren't options, she added.

"There's only one path, one sanctioned lifestyle," she said. "That is the fundamental mindset that makes lying flat an issue."

In Palmerston, local kids meet friends and learn skills through youth engagement programs .
Those working at the coal face of youth engagement in the Top End suburb of Palmerston are finding the more guidance and care given to local kids, the better it is for the broader community.Some have made headlines for being overlooked, like the recent controversial changes to youth bail laws.

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