06/09/2021, 17.05
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Young Chinese protest by ‘lying flat’ against a culture of overwork for little reward

Young Chinese are doing the bare minimum at work and school. As the cost-of-living rises, they see no prospect of social advancement. This is a threat to the birth rate, as well as a challenge to the country’s socio-economic model and to the communist regime. The protest movement is spreading to universities.

Beijing (AsiaNews) – Young Chinese are turning against over-work for little reward.

Their new social resistance movement is called “lying flat”, i.e., doing the bare minimum at work and school, tired of crushing hours of activity, rising consumer prices and unaffordable housing.

All this is worrying the authorities who see it as a threat to President Xi Jinping’s great plans for “national rejuvenation“.

Chinese youth protest against the “culture of endless work with little reward in overcrowded and chaotic cities.

Their target is a lifestyle exclusively focused on production and consumption, in which workers are under constant pressure from their employers to achieve pre-established results.

Under this regimented system, firms and authorities use surveillance and facial recognition systems to control the workforce and increase productivity.

People started to declare themselves “lying flat youth” following a user inspired by ancient Greek philosophy, this in a country centred more on family and community than the individual.

Favoured by the slowdown in economic growth due to the pandemic and trade tensions with the US, this new youth attitude and movement quickly picked up speed on social media.

Faced with seemingly limited prospects for social advancement, and personal “involution”, employees and university students consider it useless to work hard to buy a car, purchase a home, or even start a family.

This attitude partly explains the  lukewarm reaction of so many Chinese to the recent policy change in favour of three children per married couple.

And social media are not the only venue. Across the country, T-shirts printed with “Do nothing lie flat youth” are selling like hotcakes.

A survey by Chinese microblogging site Weibo, conducted between May 28 and June 3, found that 61 per cent of the 241,000 participants want to embrace the lying flat attitude, the South China Morning Post reported.

For China’s communist regime, the “lying flat” challenge undermines the country’s social and economic order on which its power is based.

In response, the authorities have launched a media campaign against the movement, which according to several observers represents a dangerous form of civil resistance to the socio-economic model promoted 40 years ago by Deng Xiaoping.

And now, what might look like a generational revolt has spread to university campuses.

Last weekend, police raided a college in Nanjing (Jiangsu) breaking up a group of students' peaceful protest against the authorities' decision to merge the facility with other local establishments.

As the Apple Daily reports today, police beat up scores of university students accused of holding the college principal hostage. Soon after, three provincial education departments suspended college merger plans.

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