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- This topic has 20 replies, 10 voices, and was last updated 10 years ago by Charlie.
March 8, 2013 at 6:53 am #10302
Long read, but a good read: China’s Generation GapMarch 8, 2013 at 8:20 am #27848LarryParticipant
Nice recommendation Chris, super good read.
I’ve had countless conversations with friends born in the 80s and 90s about pressure from parents to live a certain life path that is beyond irrelevant today. I don’t envy them at all, especially since the tolerance for non-conformity is as low as it is.
There were so many good points in the article, I also highly recommend it.
If/when the real estate bubble bursts, so much of what drives societal and familial motivation is going to seem so futile.March 8, 2013 at 8:59 am #27849Michael MParticipant
Really interesting article.
I quite often end up discussing how the difference between my own life and my parents is relatively small, and how western countries have actually changed very little in decades.
The difference between the lives of my Chinese friends and those of their parents is huge, even the difference between when they we 4 or 5 years old and now is staggering.March 8, 2013 at 10:24 am #27857EricParticipant
I’ve noticed this with the current generation of Chinese actually.
Although I am Chinese, it feels a lot more distant just because my family is from Hong Kong, and I grew up in Canada.
At the same time, I can completely relate to everything in here. After reading this article, I feel like I need to get married soon or I’m going to suffer a horrible death.March 9, 2013 at 3:53 am #27873
The baby boomer generation of mainland china had been abused by Mao for decades.March 11, 2013 at 5:10 am #27972GAVVIEParticipant
Informative.. but depressing read. Not a word about Love! China with one of the highest suicide rates in the world. Why? Obviously Confuscious has not given any guidance to people. Now materialism and money is God! The class structure still flourishing. Can’t ask too many questions because information gets blocked. Keep the people in the dark (WE are in the dark). Dirty air and waterways.
Still…Honour your father and mother. Only Biblical commandment with a promise of reward.March 11, 2013 at 5:38 am #27978LouMember
If you want another depressing article, I read this one yesterday about the marriage market: In a Changing China, New Matchmaking MarketsMarch 11, 2013 at 6:13 am #27985EricParticipant
Lou! Wow! That’s not depressing! This was like.. An awesome novel that I couldn’t peel my eyes off of. What’s more is that they are in Chengdu so it ties in perfectly.
Maybe I should hang out a little more nearby Shangri-la. 😉March 11, 2013 at 11:47 am #28007CharlieKeymasterQuote:Long read, but a good read: China’s Generation Gap
I just finished reading this, really tremendous article. The subject matter has so much history and depth to it that I don’t think it’s possible to do justice to it in a much more concise format.
Larry’s right, there are tons of outstanding observations here. One that really struck me is the part describing the dating show contestant who when asked by an unemployed man if she’d join him on his bicycle said “I’d rather cry in a BMW than laugh on a bicycle”. There is a tragic sickness in modern Chinese culture, which is a 180 degree reversal of the Mao-era doctrine of values. In that era, no one owned anything and a country was forced, under threat of death, to subserve their natural desire for personal prosperity in favor of prosperity of the country. Now that that’s over with, the pursuit of personal wealth and power completely dominates Chinese society.
It’s tragic since China is beginning to create enough wealth for its people to pursue the things that make economically prosperous countries happy (high quality healthcare and education, job and family stability, various freedoms). Instead, so many millions live a life bound by golden handcuffs due to tradition and societal pressure.
I saw a normal looking Chinese guy wearing an Obey sweatshirt the other day in Chengdu and silently wondered how many backwards social conventions he’s bound by, or whether he knows or believes in the anti-authoritarian message behind that brand. It’s ironic seeing people wear messages that contradict their own beliefs or when brands stand for one thing and are completely detached from their meaning when they become celebrated articles of pop culture. That stark imagery, a symbol of opposition to the conventional, on a Chengdu street can be surreal.Quote:If you want another depressing article, I read this one yesterday about the marriage market: In a Changing China, New Matchmaking Markets
This article is fantastic as well, and completely related to the first. Women are objectified to a great degree in China, the entire 剩女 principle (of “left over” women at 27 years old) is pretty radical. My mother gave birth to me when she was 39, and she’s awesome!Quote:I quite often end up discussing how the difference between my own life and my parents is relatively small, and how western countries have actually changed very little in decades.
This is so true, and I am so incredibly grateful to have been born in the developed Western world for this and other reasons discussed in this thread. My parents are incredible (especially my mother) and we have so much in common. She turns 70 this year and travels around the world, is always meeting new people, learning new things, maintains an incredible level of fitness and health, and continues to live a very fulfilling live. It’s easy to relate because I aspire to do the same.
Lastly, I think expats all share a common thread: we are the unconventional. We all left our home for a strange place that speaks a different language, and we know that life is better when you break out of that bubble and live for yourself, on your own script. We’re in the minority in our own countries but in China, there are so few who have the courage to defy convention. Whether it’s China’s Confucian ancestry or the hardships of the last 60 years, this is just not that kind of place.March 11, 2013 at 12:07 pm #28008
Last July I posted “Do you hear the people sing” from the 10th anniversary concert, video with chinese subtitles on Weibo to show my support for the people in Shifang protesting the planned toxic chemical factory. But people can’t understand it.
Chinese goverment didn’t censor this musical film, they couldn’t even be bothered to do so. As they predicted, most people cant understand it at all, those few who like film and understand music, usually make a good living and are unlikely to be troublemakers.March 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm #28021jia liuParticipant
A long insightful article. Yes, full of pain that you have to bear for old and young in the 100-year suffering China. But try your best, keep positive, as a poem said “The darkness give me black eyes, but i use it to look for light(黑夜给了我黑色的眼睛，我却用它来寻找光明)”Quote:Lastly, I think expats all share a common thread: we are the unconventional. We all left our home for a strange place that speaks a different language, and we know that life is better when you break out of that bubble and live for yourself, on your own script. We’re in the minority in our own countries but in China, there are so few who have the courage to defy convention. Whether it’s China’s Confucian ancestry or the hardships of the last 60 years, this is just not that kind of place
These lines strike me. The tradition of encouraging creation and uniqueness really make me envy the education/culture of westerners. Thanks to the technology that’s changing the world, i am lucky enough to know the existance of a broader more colorful world and have my own thoughts. Yes, confucian did give some good advice, 活到老，学到老（one should keep learning more as long as he/she is alive）March 12, 2013 at 10:09 am #28067
Very good article Chris, definitely one of the most concise and uncluttered overviews of China’s current ills and aspirations.
I’m always falling into these conversations, particularly with women, who at times confess to being utterly disillusioned with what’s expected of them, yet carry at the same time an overwhelming obedience to the pressures placed upon them by friends and family alike. We all know social pressures among the urban middle classes are high, but some of what I hear seems archaic in the extreme. I’d go as far as to say that the ‘New China’ far from freeing the young aspiring middle classes from their traditional societal ties, appears to be bounding them ever tighter as their peers shamelessly tout their new found wealth and influence. In a society where material gain and possession is king, there’s little time for reflection or empathy toward the have nots, only the desire to avoid becoming one of them. With anyone leaving university desperate to make it to the cities, where it’s impossible to turn a corner without being sold a watch, phone, car, or apartment on billboards and bus stops, or whilst standing in yet another elevator, there’s little chance of these desires changing within any foreseeable future.
Girls who like shopping! Go!!!!March 13, 2013 at 6:01 am #28149
An interesting observation is although this generation gap exists, the value of filial piety still keeps the Chinese close with their parents, often taking them into their own homes. Whereas in the west, despite being able to relate to parents better, people are more likely to grow apart from their parents and send them away to a nursing home. Chinese people are usually shocked by this difference.
As for marriage in China, with the unbalanced gender ratio, I don’t see how men’s standards for a bride can be so high, or specific.
White skinned, sharp chinned, big eyed, virgins. This standard of beauty has resulted in the “alien-in-children’s-clothing” look that many Chinese women are striving for today.March 13, 2013 at 6:16 am #28152Quote:alien-in-children’s-clothing
Lol! This is awesome when it’s a woman in her late 30’s trying to rock it. She’ll often times have a messed up complexion from botched surgery/botox/whitening to complete the look. Not too dissimilar from some of the crazy cats in L.A.!!March 13, 2013 at 6:35 am #28156CharlieKeymasterQuote:As for marriage in China, with the unbalanced gender ratio, I don’t see how men’s standards for a bride can be so high, or specific.
I think it’s only the elite minority of wealthy Chinese men that can afford to exercise that level of scrutiny. The second article about love hunters talks about billionaires who have an excruciatingly detailed list of qualifications, but it contrasts that with the elderly woman trying to find her 36 year old son a wife, saying that she’s so desperate that she couldn’t immediately dismiss anyone as a candidate.Quote:White skinned, sharp chinned, big eyed, virgins. This standard of beauty has resulted in the “alien-in-children’s-clothing” look that many Chinese women are striving for today.
The difference between what Westerners and Chinese perceive as attractive qualities in women can be very stark. I’ve read a handful of books about attraction and what things we’re biologically programmed as humans to seek out, but how cultural overlap plays over that is complex and interesting. The white skin thing aside, I notice that a lot of Chinese men prefer their women to be relatively uneducated and docile. The article linked to above touches on that as well – in general, the situation seems to be that Chinese society places less value on women who are in a position to challenge their partners: financially, intellectually, or in terms of sexual experience. This fits well into the Confucian order.March 13, 2013 at 6:44 am #28158Quote:the situation seems to be that Chinese society places less value on women who are in a position to challenge their partners: financially, intellectually, or in terms of sexual experience
These are the women who I see spending 99.9% of their time staring into an iPhone/Galaxy screen. Living vicariously through pictures of ‘pretty’ things. It would be comical if it wasn’t so deeply sad. There are now a multitude of apps that cater to this, especially text to image apps that include slogan gems like ‘Happy Life’ (usually over a picture of a cake/bracelet/latte) and other vapid child like drivel.March 13, 2013 at 7:26 am #28161
This trend will inevitably change soon right? What kinds of factors do you think would effect this.
Women are already becoming increasingly more educated and gaining social status. China is already becoming more exposed to western values and international media. The younger generations are craving individuality. We’ve seen how Chinese society can go through stark changes over short periods of time. Is another cultural shift due soon?March 13, 2013 at 8:30 am #28163Quote:This trend will inevitably change soon right?
I think there’s already a degree of ‘change’, paradoxically fueled by the prosperity enjoyed by so many, but it has a long way to go before the tide of traditional values passes into the history books.
I will say it’s incredibly common that this change is easily overlooked by many when commenting on China’s social order. Sweeping statements are all too popular amongst commentators, who tend not to delve into the finer points of what’s really taking shape. Of course individual issues do see some discussion, and we have numerous books, articles, blogs and the like attempting to dissect the inner workings of China’s social caste, but unless you’ve really lived in the thick of it for a considerable length of time, it’s fair to say you’d only be brushing the surface. China as we know is a country entrenched in the complexities of old, constantly caught in the headlights, with no one at the wheel.
I think we can all but forget about the middle classes causing any shift. The middle classes have historically only been concerned with the issues that effect them personally, and not on the inequalities found within their homeland. Pollution is a good example of this. We’ve already seen ‘protests’ against the rising tide of polluters in China, but it’s the middle classes who are fastest to retreat to the comfort of their homes when softly dissenting voices fade. What we would need to see is those born in the 90’s deciding for themselves that they want more than what’s been traditionally expected of them, taking advantage of the economic prosperity afforded them amidst China’s current development, and choosing to do more with that wealth and power than just consume.
Good luck with that.March 13, 2013 at 9:08 am #28168
This is the hilarious flowchart mentioned in the article:March 19, 2013 at 8:22 am #28413
Oh God. Can anyone translate that?
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