Communist and post-Communist oppression China | 08 August 2023

China: Dealing with discontented youth

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While the phenomenon of “lying flat” among Chinese youth has been observed for some years already (see WWR’s Full Country Dossier China, December 2022, p.24), a new trend has begun among discontented youth namely the “Four Won’ts”: Won’t date; won’t marry; won’t buy a home; and won’t have kids (China Digital Times, 20 July 2023).  While a survey carried out by the Guangzhou branch of the Communist Youth League found that only 8% would fully subscribe to these ‘Won’ts’, it is enough to keep the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) worried.

World Watch Research (WWR) analyst Thomas Muller explains: “The discontentment among the youth is particularly worrying in the light of the latest numbers for youth unemployment. According to official statistics, 21.3% of all youth are currently unemployed. However, according to Zhang Dandan, professor at Peking University, this percentage could be as high as 46.5%, if youths not actively looking for employment are included (Channel News Asia, 20 July 2023). Christians are affected by these challenging numbers as well, as they have less career opportunities, since becoming a member in the CCP and continuing to profess being a Christian mutually exclude one another.”

Thomas Muller continues: “While the CCP is aware that something needs to be done to ease the current economic and social difficulties, it is far from clear what can actually be done. According to a recent report from the National Development and Reform Commission, a start has been made by reforming China’s rigid household registration system in order to encourage urbanization (China Daily, 18 July 2023). The system was  originally set up to prevent slums building up around urban centers through mass internal migration and  determines who has access to local social amenities, such as education, healthcare and employment. The need for household registration is now to be completely removed for all cities with a population under 3 million.  In cities with a population between three and five million registration will be eased. If this is enough to counter the numerous challenges (summed up in a frank interview in China’s ‘People’ magazine and called ‘demographic disaster’) remains to be seen (Reading the China Dream, 24 July 2023).”


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