Chinese born in the 1980s, known as 80 hou (baling hou in putong hua), are famous for westerners as the first generation born during the enforcement of the one-child policy of China. The 80 hou is a generation of more than 200 million only children with shared burdens and opportunities. Their thinking emerges through traditional Chinese culture and Confucian morality, but they begin their careers in an almost full market, governed by WTO rules. Many of them are solely responsible for financial support for the retirement of their parents. Since the 80 hou fulfill their responsibilities and achieve their social goals, their unique perspective is certain to influence trends in the global economy.
For the past decade, it was in fashion to refer to the 80s cohort, as the “little emperor”, a generation of self-important only children who in the traditional Chinese childlike piety with excessive demands for material goods, The parents and grandparents are just too happy to offer. In fact, some 80 hou in Peking have lived up to the “small emperor” stereotype Many come from families who have gained wealth and residential property portfolios after receiving state reimbursement to torn Hutongs to pave the way for Beijing’s rapid urbanization . These families gained financial security by investing reimbursements in newly developed housing in the late 1990s, in some cases buying several units. When the prices of apartments in Beijing escalated over the past ten years, many were killed for living by solving one property while living in another and renting a third unit to earn a stable income. Pekinger with so much luck have known that their only children can lead a leisurely existence. They can choose to work when they want to have more money, but there is no need for them to provide financially for themselves or their parents. However, this lucky 80 hou leisure class said to never have tasted bitterness constitutes a small 80 hou demographic sling. The overwhelming majority of the 80 hou honor their traditional role and work to fulfill their responsibility within family unity . As such, the majority of this generation is under serious pressure to fulfill the role of the breadwinner for their families, while simultaneously trying to advance their careers and achieve their social goals.
80 recall the rarity of consumer goods during their formative years. China’s economic transition has just begun, and the shortcomings created by the central planning still prevail. As a result, they are consistent with the fears of the older generation, prone to working long hours, and pay attention to more than half their monthly income. They are also the first generation exposed to Korean and American pop culture, and many are hardcore fans of Michael Jackson, * NSYNC and Guns N ‘Roses. But while admiring the boldness and voluntary attitude of Westerners, their identity is rooted in the Chinese tradition.
Educated 80 hou are well read in Chinese classics, and they express great pride in their country. The 80 hou were shocked and horrified when they were exposed to Western criticism for the first time in 2008, when the media highlighted the protesters who defiled the 2008 Olympic Torch Relay to China. Chinese 80 She saw with contempt the cultural tendency of the French and other Western peoples to protest. Protesting in France is a political and cultural norm for communication between the people and the government, but this Western style has not translated well. Many Chinese found the protests absurd and offensive. In response, the 80 hours gathered in online communities to express their great love for the country and the dignity of traditional Chinese culture. 80 hou also enjoy the ability to pamper in online shopping and entertainment. Fashion has become a passion for this generation, and the Louis Vuitton logo has made great ideas in 80 hou as a static symbol, but they still recognize fine Chinese cuisine as the greatest luxury in the world.
When the 80 hou grew up, their education was the center of attention for grandparents and parents in the house. All resources have been made to progress the child’s education and skill. As young adults, they were able to enter the workforce during a period of openness, which also included the acceptance of China into the WTO. Their first steps to the career were taken during an economic yoke. They have experienced a greater chance at the beginning of their careers than most of the 90s are likely to enjoy. The 90 hou go into the workforce at a time of global economic recession. They do not recall past shortcomings because their experiences are characterized by a period of prosperous economic development and urbanization. However, the 90 hou can face more scarcity than adults in the labor market than the 80 hou.
80 hou are an important generation for their experience of entering the workforce the moment the Chinese economy was widely recognized as the driving force of the world market. In addition, 80 years have grown in a time of freedom to move, study, work and earn. Career advancement is accessible in the modern market, but the tendency of young professionals to expect consistent praise, higher salaries, or leadership positions, often referred to as characteristic of America’s Gen Y is antithetic to pursue Chinese culture. While 80 hou have great dreams and great hopes for themselves, they are probably not directly asking their bosses for new opportunities. Instead, they pursue practical ways to prepare for career advancement, such as studying new skills or learning new trades.
Since Beijing has evolved into a modern metropolis, millions of the 80s have returned to the capital, looking for better jobs and more access to international culture. This generation shares a common dream of home ownership, but the price of buying a residential home in Beijing or Shanghai is so exorbitant that few manage such a benefit without financial contributions from their families. Average gross salaries for successful employees can range from 1,000 RMB to 3,000 RMB per month (about $ 140 – $ 400) The going rate for residential property in Beijing is at least 16,900 RMB ($2,500) per square meter2, and the price of a 90 square meter apartment can be higher than 1.9 million RMB ($279,400)3. The mainstream mindset of the 80 hou is to qualify for a good paying white-collar job, work long hours, and save most of one’s income so as to eventually buy an apartment. The large rent-to-price ratio (approximately 1:546) does not deter people from pursuing investment in the real estate market or viewing it as a sound investment. The rent-to-price ratio compares the cost of renting a home to the cost of purchasing one. Buying a home is paramount because it meets the financial and social needs of adult Chinese today. After they buy a home, they can provide a place for their retired parents, marry and have a baby. Afterwards, savings will be directed towards giving their only child the best chance possible to succeed in education and career.
Tens of millions of the 80 hou are not white-collar professionals. They are young men and women who migrated from the countryside into China’s major cities to work as servers in restaurants (fu wu yuan in putong hua) or guards at apartment complexes (bao an). They came from subsistence farming societies and moved to the eastern cities to earn a near subsistence wage. The meager salaries are saved to provide their families with health care. Illness can devastate these farming families. Middle-aged parents and young adult children work far from home all year, saving their salaries and pooling their earnings at Spring Festival family reunions. These working poor do not have enough money for a college education and do not qualify for white-collar jobs. They carry on a long-standing tradition of living for the next generation, which is an all-too-common experience for the peoples of developing nations. Parents work throughout their lifetimes, saving for basic nourishment and the advancement of their children’s education. They do not entertain the idea that they will climb the social ladder themselves, but save their money to provide for family health care and direct their hopes toward the future of their progeny. For the 80 hou working poor, the menial jobs available in the city provide important perks such as free room and board. As the famous Chinese idiom proclaims: “To the people food is heaven.” The migrant working poor of Beijing may earn an average of only a few hundred RMB a month, but they are able to save the majority of their pay for their families because rent and food are provided by their employers.
Despite the pressure to provide for their families and a high-level of competition for jobs and educational advancement, many individuals of the 80 hou pursue their career ideals with gusto. Three such individuals are profiled here. They come from a variety of backgrounds including highly educated families, subsistence farmers, and well-connected families. Each of the three has experienced times of scarcity and has suffered anxiety over finances, some more than others. What these three 80 hou share is their extraordinary attitude toward life in their quest to provide for their families while achieving their own goals. Each has taken whatever life presented and pursued individual social advancement. Each depends upon him or herself to provide financial security, and considers marriage a future prospect and not something to depend upon for social success. These three are not overcome by the pressure to provide, and they are far from complacent about their careers. In fact, they are passionate about fulfilling their ambitious dreams. Their individual stories follow.
The post-80s reached puberty when the reform era (initiated in 1989) was already on its way. Nevertheless, they were emotionally shaped (early childhood) in the midst of the cultural revolution, an age of instability and uncertainties in the future. Education was not widespread and unconditional devotion to the communist leadership was nationally enforced. Today, while they generally estimate the economic development and growth of the powerful Chinese nation, the post-80s also see how the values are changing at the moment. They complain that today’s young people, instead of appreciating the opportunity to attend school, complain about the student’s education. Similarly, the modern youth spend money on superficial goods instead of recognizing the importance of the money saving. Not to mention solidarity, friendship, and marriage, which are increasingly casually treated these days, often coupled with materialistic interests.
The post-80s are only a decade away from the post-70s and are mostly sons and daughters of the parents who were born in the 1950s or 1960s. The social turbulence of the Mao regime is tense for them and it is up to their parents to decide whether or not to share their experiences with them. Some parents want their children to appreciate every opportunity given by the new era and to shape their offspring into a “post-70s” form. In many other cases parents enjoy the fact that their children only know the reform era of China and wish them to enjoy the new comfortable lifestyle. In such cases, parents can promote the formation of spoiled children and, in extreme cases, build selfish nouveau riche youngsters (fuerdai). The introduction of one-child policy has made such a phenomenon still widespread since the parents pay more attention to the happiness of their individual offspring and neglect the discipline.
In which aspects are the Post-90s so different from the Post-80s? While the negative stereotypes of the post-80s are linked to the emergence of a selfish group that leads a course of depreciation, this generation also carries a certain burden on the shoulders. Being a single child can mean more study and work pressure as the sole successor to the family. While they complete, the Post-80s experience the competition of the market economy and the challenge of buying an apartment. “Yueguangzu” (youngsters who spend their whole monthly income) and “woju” (living in modest residence, which are the economic burden of buying an apartment over many years) are some of the terms that express the less casual sides of the post- Experience 80s.
The Post-90s suffer from similar prospects, but they do not seem to be guinea pigs in a new socioeconomic experience. The problems of student pressure and high prices are already socially acknowledged facts and the emotional needs of the individual are taken into account in a larger respect. This does not mean that the post-90s do not eat bitterness (chiku 吃苦), but at least the system provides more means to overcome stress and deliberately or not, open the door for neoliberal individualistic values.
In terms of consumerism, the post-90s take it to the next level, very selectively and consciously. Internet shopping is a past time hobby and needless to say the Internet is also an important social hangout and empire of self-expression for the post-90s adolescents.
A survey by the Guangzhou Committee of the Communist Youth League of China tried to provide some data to support popular stereotypes. The survey found large differences between the members of the three generations in the attitude towards marriage (the post-70s who want to keep the family “safe” in all respects, post-80s see divorce as something that can sometimes be celebrated) , Shopping (the post-90s strongly prefer online shopping), save money (the post-70s constantly consider how to save their income) and working hours (overtime hours tolerated only by the post-70s). This survey is indeed interesting, although such a comparison is problematic because it reflects the differences between the age groups and, for example, does not indicate how the post-1970s a decade ago (when they were at an age, Which corresponds to the post-80s.
Generation Y – People who were born from 1980 to 1995
To the world, Generation Y teens shared many common experiences. As in India and the US, young people in China were swept in a booming economy. Although foreign trade embargoes of Tiananmen were present, economic growth in China continued in a fast pace in the 1990s and early 2000s. The reforms continued, including the sale of equity in China’s largest state banks to foreign investors and refinements to foreign exchange and bond markets. In 2004, the National People’s Congress provided protection for private property rights and put a new emphasis on reducing the downside of industrial growth, including regional unemployment, the uneven distribution of income between urban and rural regions, as well as environmental pollution. The country has made significant investments in science, technology and space exploration. Thousands moved from rural villages to cities, farms to factories, leaving behind family, class and history. By 2007, most of China’s growth came from the private sector. During this time, China has gradually become more open and less repressive – not a democracy but also a totalitarian state.
Nicknames of the “litter emperor”, Gen Y’s in China occupy a special role in the burgeoning society. China’s one-child policy, introduced in 1979, means that most members of this generation are only children, in many cases growing up as the only focus of two parents and four grandparents. They tend to have a high self-esteem and a confidence level that positions them for leadership roles in China and the world.
Like many Y’s around the world, this generation has strong advanced technological skills and an urge to be globally linked. As adolescents, they also communicate directly with the outside world and influence the future of their country. During the Tibetan turmoil of 2008 marking the 49th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising of 1959 against the rule of Beijing, young patriotic Chinese led Internet campaigns against Western media coverage of the protests. Also in 2008, when a massive earthquake killed 70,000, many young people participated in the rescue as volunteers.
Teen Y’s in China have experienced a surge of national pride. Two foreign colonies were returned to China during their teenage years: Hong Kong from Great Britain in 1997 and Macau from Portugal in 1999. In 2001, China was admitted to the World Trade Organization. Most clearly in 2008, China successfully organized the Summer Olympics in 2008.
As in India, Y’s in China share this generation’s global sense of immediacy, coupled with the excitement, a part of the first wave of the country’s broad economic opportunity and growing national pride. Y’s in China are confident and competitive. For many, the desire for economic success is closely linked to the desire for status. They are looking forward to increasing the role and influence of China in the world.
When we were preparing for future generations, one child policy was revaluated in 2008 and expanded by at least another decade, assuring that the next generation will consist largely of single children.
China, like other countries I will be discussing over the coming weeks, illustrates the dramatically different experiences and formative events that have influenced the generations (the generations I call traditionalists and boomers in the United States) growing up in the 1940s and 1970s Similarity of experiences in the 1980s. Generations X and Y are the beginnings of global generations.
China’s one-child policy was officially launched 30 years ago on 25 September 1980 in an open letter from the Communist Party of China. By this time, the government had been deployed locally and nationally for voluntary birth control and discouraged surplus reproduction.
The policy was created after Chairman Mao launched a campaign to encourage families to have more children, resulting in birth rates of over 4 children per family. At the same time, there was a food shortage that resulted partly from Mao’s failed economic planning of the Great Leap while the 30 million Chinese died of man-made famine.
Although the birth rate fell to 3 children per family by 1980, a new regime of Chinese leaders believed that violent restraint on population growth would lead to greater economic prosperity. As a result, a coercive policy was born that would influence the most intimate aspect of any Chinese citizenship – their family.
The one-child policy restricts the majority of Chinese families to a child. The consequences of a child without a birth permit vary according to the province, with the fines being as high as the average annual income. The policy was originally introduced as a temporary measure, which would take place only for 20 to 30 years, but it continues to this day.
In order to enforce one-child policy, the Chinese government uses a quota rewards scheme for planning officers to perform the birth control policy. If they do not meet these quotas, they will either be punished or lose the opportunity to earn promotions.
In 1984, the policy was somewhat relaxed, with rural families and other demographic groups being able to obtain permits for a second child. But these new exceptions varied drastically from province to province and were no longer applied when agricultural families migrated to urban centers. Policy remains an important concern for parents who are exposed to local officials to approve their eligibility.
The Chinese government boasts that the one-child policy has prevented over 400 million births and announced in March 2013 that they had aborted 336 million children in the last four decades, carried out 196 million surgical sterilizations and 403 million IUDs (intrauterine devices). The loss of life and the imposition of the rights of mothers is breathtaking.
A growing demographic crisis is emerging in China as the population ages so that a smaller workforce is responsible for a massive number of older citizens. Some call this the “4-2-1” problem, because several generations have grown up as nurses: Now 1 child is often assigned with the support of 2 parents and 4 grandparents. Chinese scholars have pointed to the demographic situation as a major concern to urge the government to change the one-child policy.
Politicians also criticize because their brutal law enforcement officers meet quotas by forcing pregnant women to undergo pregnancies, often resulting in imminent loss of jobs, colossal fines, and even personal harm. Women who still reject these forced abortions were arrested and held back for forced exile. The highest-ranking cases were those of Feng Jianmei, whose 7-month-old baby was forcibly aborted on June 2, The image of her dead baby lying next to her (circled) quickly circulated the globe and caused uproar in China and around the world. In response to the universal condemnation of this forced abortion, the Chinese government began to exceed the late-stage forced abortion at the national and provincial level. Unfortunately, the enforcement of this law is spotty, and forced abortion has still occurred. On March 22, 2013, another 7-month-old baby was forcibly abducted, and this image also circulated widely on the Internet.
Another tragic consequence of the policy is China’s growing gender inequality. Coupled with a traditional predilection for men, the policy causes parents to get rid of daughters by abortion, abandonment, or child killing. This removal of girls is called gendercide. (Read more about it here.) Experts predict that by 2020, China will be home to 40 million more men than women under the age of 20. This figure is equivocal with the total population of men under 20 in the US.
Scholars, activists, ordinary Chinese citizens, and even Chinese government officials have come together to demand an end to one-child policy. But the greatest choir has been of the followers of Jesus both inside and outside of China who have not ceased praying for God to put an end to the massacres and slaughter of innocents. Brave Christians are represented in the faith to love girls and women around them in the name of Jesus.
As of March 2013, the Chinese government seemed to be clinging to the one-child policy by making only marginal and insignificant tweaks that allowed two children under certain circumstances. All Girls Allowed believes that God will end China’s cooperation policy in response to our prayers and our love’s actions. May you accompany us to experience God’s liberation as he shares the Red Sea and leads his people into freedom!
China’s one-child family policy, which was first announced in 1979, has remained the same despite the extraordinary political and social changes that have occurred over the past two decades. It arose from the belief that development would be impaired by rapid population growth, and that the sheer size of the Chinese population together with their young age structure was a unique challenge.
- The one-child family policy has been developed and implemented to eliminate the social and economic consequences of the persistent rapid population growth
- The implementation was more successful in urban areas than in rural areas
- Social and economic reforms have made a rigorous policy implementation difficult
- The main critique of politics is its suggestion to discriminate against women who can be aborted, abandoned or unregistered
- Policy has facilitated some of the pressures of rapid population growth in municipalities, reducing the population by at least 250 million
Governmental family planning services were made available as a contribution to maternal and child health in China from 1953 onwards. As a result of falling death rates, the population growth rate rose to 2.8%, which led to around 250 million more people per year, rebellions, wars, epidemics and the collapse of imperial authority, where annual population growth is likely to be no more than 0.3 %, Such expansion was seen as part of the new strength of China. Mao Zedong quoted a traditional saying: “Of all things in the world, people are the most precious.”
The rapid growth has, however, severely impacted the government’s efforts to meet the needs of its people. The fourth five-year plan in 1970 included targets for the population growth rate for the first time. Contraception and abortion services were extended to rural areas, and there was extensive support for the later marriage, longer intervals between births and smaller families. Within five years the population growth rate decreased to around 1.8%, and the target for 1980 was a growth rate of 1%. In order to achieve this, each administrative unit has introduced and discussed its own goal, and, if necessary, has tried to change the incentive behavior of its population. At the local level, collective income and allocations – for example, health care, welfare and schools – could allow couples to understand the impact of their personal family selection on the community. They also made it possible for the Community to exert pressure on those who wanted children outside the agreed plans.
Origins of one child policy
But even the 1980 target, let alone the more ambitious aim of reaching zero growth by the year 2000, was unattainable through a “later, longer, fewer” campaign.
Population studies had been discontinued in China in the late 1950s in line with Marxist doctrine. Only in 1975 did new university departments begin to be established, staffed largely by statisticians. They quickly realised that with half of the population under the age of 21, further growth was inevitable even if each family was quite small. By the time of the 1982 census there were already more than 1 billion people in China, and if current trends persisted, there could be 1.4 billion by the end of the century. Most population growth rate targets were abandoned in the early 1980s, and from 1985 the official goal was to keep the population at around 1.2 billion by 2000.
Elements of the policy
Details of what the one child policy involved and how it was to be implemented have varied at different times. The essential elements are clear. The aim was to curtail population growth, perhaps to 1.1 billion and certainly to 1.2 billion, by the year 2000. It was hoped that third and higher order births could be eliminated and that about 30% of couples might agree to forgo a second child. The ideal of a one child family implied that the majority would probably never meet it. It was argued that the sacrifice of second or third children was necessary for the sake of future generations. People were to be encouraged to have only one child through a package of financial and other incentives, such as preferential access to housing, schools, and health services. Discouragement of larger families included financial levies on each additional child and sanctions which ranged from social pressure to curtailed career prospects for those in government jobs. Specific measures varied from province to province.5 Minorities were excluded from the policy.
In some of the largest and most advanced cities like Shanghai, sizeable proportions of couples already chose to have only one child. Both adults worked full time with long hours; the housing allocation was only 3.6 m2 per person in 1977; without conveniences such as refrigerators tasks like shopping and cooking were time consuming daily efforts. In most families, at least one member would be employed in the state sector and susceptible to government direction. As a result, it was not long before 90% of couples in urban areas were persuaded to restrict their families to a single child.
Rural families, however, were more difficult to convince. Peasants with limited savings and without pensions needed children to support them in old age. As married daughters moved into their husbands’ families, a son was essential—and preferably more than one. Infant mortality had fallen greatly, but in 1980 it was still around 53 per 1000 live births nationally and higher than that in rural areas.6 Years of political upheaval had left many peasants cynical about government policies and their likely duration; it also left them adept at avoiding unpopular
Years of political upheaval had left many peasants cynical about government policies and their likely duration; it also left them adept at avoiding unpopular prescriptions. Local authorities were forced to rely on fines for higher order births. They also turned to stringent birth control campaigns, which in the policy’s earlier years resulted in considerable numbers of women being bullied into abortions and sterilization. Village level family planning workers were caught between the state’s demands and the determination of their friends and neighbors. Gradually villagers developed a process of negotiation and compromise7 which allowed a degree of flexibility within the policy. As a result, irrespective of the particular directives at any given time, the proportion of women with one child who went on to have a second (almost universal behaviour in the late 1970s) fell only to 90% by 1990.
Effect of reform process on implementation
The economic reforms of recent years in China had many—often unintended—consequences for the one child family policy. Possibly the most important has been the growth of internal migration. Tight restrictions on movement, especially rural-urban movement, were relaxed as the demand for labour in the towns and cities grew. Government efforts to regulate the migrants, or even to identify their numbers, have been only partially successful. Recent estimates suggest that up to 150 million Chinese—most of them adults in their 20s and 30s—form a floating population who leave their villages for longer or shorter periods. Earning cash wages, living in makeshift accommodation, moving between jobs and between cities and their home villages, these people are seldom eligible for state-provided services and see no reason to draw official attention through temporary registration.
One result has been declining in the reliability of population statistics, already compromised by the reluctance of family planning workers to admit their inability to achieve the results demanded of them. In 1991-2, perhaps a quarter of all births were missed.10 As a result, although China’s official total fertility rate for 1990-5 was 1.92 children. It may be more realistic to assume total fertility around the replacement level—that is, a little over two children per couple.
Although both male and female births are underreported, the birth of a girl is twice as likely to be ignored. Underreporting is believed to account for about half to two thirds of the difference in infant sex ratios, which by the early 1990s had risen to 114 boys for every 100 girls. Unrecorded daughters may be left with relatives, adopted out, or abandoned to orphanages,13 which are increasingly unable to cope with the influx. Sex ratios are further skewed by widespread abortion, after the illegal but lucrative use of ultrasound to identify fetal sex.
In many rural areas rising incomes make it possible to see the fine for an additional child as a feasible investment strategy. At the same time peasants are increasingly saving for old age through a variety of retirement schemes, some offered through non-government family planning associations. These family planning associations, besides promoting family planning and the one child policy, offer various social welfare benefits including training and income generating loans for rural women and basic maternal and child health screening and care.
The introduction of fees for health services has had severe consequences for poorer peasants, and many women are unable to access reproductive health services, including maternity care or even follow up for contraceptive problems. One recent provincial survey found that over 70% of diagnosed women in a random sample had at least one reproductive tract infection. A long standing challenge to effective family planning had been the poor quality and limited choice of contraceptives, especially in rural areas reliant largely on intrauterine devices and sterilization. With support from international agencies, especially the UN Population Fund, quality has been improved (manufacture of the unreliable steel ring intrauterine device ceased in 1994). A wider range of methods is becoming available, and despite the extra cost to the individual they are proving popular.
Urban dependence on the state for employment, housing, education, and other benefits, which facilitated compliance with the one child policy, is being progressively reduced. However, although some in lucrative private work may choose to ignore the policy, for most people the increased costs and greater insecurity which they now face probably contribute to caution in family building. Instead, incomes are channeled into buying better health care and education for the sole child and providing the desirable brand name toys and clothes now available. Concerns over spoilt “little emperors” are widespread, and some family planning associations now run parent education classes to counter parents’ overprotective behavior.
The one child policy has unquestionably imposed great costs on individuals, even if (as has been suggested16) these costs have to be seen in the context of a Chinese tradition in which demographic decisions have never been individual. Most Chinese people seem prepared to make such a sacrifice if the pain is generally shared.
In 1993, the family planning associations were officially given a supervisory role in monitoring coercion and other abuses in implementing the policy. The complaints they receive almost invariably relate to unfair favourable treatment of cadres or other favoured individuals.
The main criticism of the policy, though, is undoubtedly its stimulus to sex discrimination. Faced with hard choices about overall numbers, the Chinese girl child has once again become expendable. Too many girls, if not aborted, face orphanages or second class lives concealed from the world and with reduced chances of schooling and health care. China has one of the world’s highest rates of suicide of women in the reproductive years.19 Increased pressure to produce the desired child, and a perceived reduction in the value of females, can only have exacerbated the problems of rural women.
At the same time, the successes of the policy should not be underrated. In the context of rising costs and rising aspirations throughout China, there is increasing recognition among the four-fifths of the population that is rural of the burden to the family of having a third child, and some are even willing to avoid a second.Moreover, since its inception reductions in Chinese fertility have reduced the country’s (and the world’s) population growth by some 250 million. These reductions in fertility have eased at least some of the pressures on communities, state, and the environment in a country which still carries one fifth of the world’s people.
Helen Zou was born in a town southwest of Chongqing municipality. Her father was a well-known local lawyer and her mother a homemaker. In her youth, Helen assisted her father as a scribe, using her good handwriting to copy legal documents for his practice. Copy machines were a rarity, and when available, far too expensive. Her father was most impressed by her talent and intelligence. He encouraged her to pursue law or medicine, saying that a career as a lawyer, teacher or doctor was most suitable for women. She was intent upon following in her father’s footsteps and studying law, but later, as his health failed, she wanted to become a doctor, so she could cure him of his ailments. However, he died the year before she was to choose a college major. Since she could no longer cure her father, she no longer found it practical to study medicine, and as her understanding of the red tape complexities of China’s legal system grew, she gradually lost interest in pursuing a law degree.
Helen often read English novels and watched American movies. She had a great desire to travel to foreign countries. She remained at the top of her class throughout middle school and high school. When the time came to choose a college major, Helen chose English language. She graduated from Chongqing Three Gorges University in 2004, and had a secure job offer teaching English at Dalian University. She declined the offer and went to Beijing in search of more exposure to international culture.
She started her work experience in Beijing as an employee of a Chinese state-owned company. In 2006, Helen began working as the assistant to an entrepreneur of a high-tech Chinese company preparing to make its IPO on NASDAQ. In this growing company she had the chance to participate in the functioning of projects from IPO to HR restructuring. Currently, she works for this company as an investor relations specialist. Helen enjoys being close to information, constantly aware of company affairs and industry trends. She recognizes the importance of delivering the right messages to investors. Her goal is to complete an MBA degree abroad to increase her understanding of finance and business ethics. Her career goal is to be the investor relations executive preparing Chinese companies for their IPOs on Western stock exchanges by overhauling their financial systems management and advertising these opportunities to investors. Despite her strong work ethic and obvious talent in disseminating bilingual financial communication, she does not receive sufficient training for advancement opportunities from her company. Most booming Chinese companies have not yet developed a framework for conducting career mobility or training incentives for employees.
The majority of employees in successful Chinese companies are content to have a secure job with decent pay in the big city. They do not feel the need to push for more opportunity. Those who are anxious to elevate their positions must constantly face the disappointment that their long hours and good efforts will not afford them advanced progression into managerial or decision-making roles. Helen is currently preparing for the TOEFL and GMAT examinations, studying in the evenings after work and on weekends. She will use her savings, accumulated over the last six years, to support her dream of studying abroad and attending an American university to complete her MBA degree. She must excel in these exams, since being awarded a scholarship by a foreign university is a financial imperative for her to accomplish her dream. As a 28-year-old, single woman in China, her career ambitions are countered by her responsibility to provide for her widowed mother. Helen must be able to afford her educational goals while providing for herself and her mother. The portion of her income not directed toward necessities and savings is spent trying her hand at the Chinese stock market. She views such investment as a hobby and not as a resource for financial gain. Such play enriches her experience in calculating risk in the Chinese stock market.
Helen considers marriage a future concern. Although she enjoys dating in her free time, she views such interaction as no more than interesting and fun. Helen believes that as she achieves her career goals, she will come into contact with a most suitable mate. She is certain he will be a dynamic individual with lots of international perspective. She looks forward to the day she can settle down with financial security and provide a stimulating home environment for her future family to thrive.
Yongbin Fang was born to subsistence farmers in Anhui Province. His parents were born in the 1950s and as adolescents in the 1960s survived periods of starvation by chewing on seeds that they randomly found while sifting through the dust of the barren earth. Their parents, Fang’s grandparents, were tormented by purges and eventually defeated by starvation. In the fertile 1980s, Fang was born into a family with survivors’ spirit. He grew up helping his family reap the corn during the harvest season and attending the local school in the off-season. It was there that he gained literacy and studied basic mathematics. As a kid in the 1990s, he gazed wistfully at the skyscrapers towering off in the distance. Often the men of his village went to the city to work as construction laborers. They always returned home with cash for their families.
Fang dreamed of becoming an architect. At the age of 17, he left school and went to Suzhou to be a carpenter’s apprentice. He worked for the whole year, learning the trade and earning only room and board. During the Spring Festival family reunion at the end of that year, his parents told him it was time to earn an income, so he followed his uncle and father to work as a carpenter on construction sites in burgeoning Beijing. Since he was young and nourished by his dream of becoming an architect, he proved to be a fast learner. The boss took notice of this and sent him to work as a mechanic at the garage he owned. There Fang mastered new trades and decided to invest in getting his driver’s license. This new skill enabled him to earn a higher income by working as a bus driver for private kindergartens in Beijing.
The savings he accumulated by working a better paying job was immediately invested into his educational advancement. He put himself through university while working full-time, earning a degree in interior design. The foreign English teachers working at the Beijing kindergartens often sought Fang’s help and friendship. He realized the next useful skill for him to master was English language. So again he used his income to support his educational advancement. He completed an independent study program at Beijing Foreign Studies University and successfully passed all the exams to earn a diploma in English language and literature. He used his new skills by working as a translator for Chinese public relations firms, and prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games he landed a job as a translator for a German news corporation that conducts all their China reporting in English, as it is more commonly spoken in China than German. He continues to adapt his skills to creatively strategize his financial security. Currently, he takes every opportunity to learn about professional photography so that he can advance his career into higher realms of the media industry. In 2007, his parents and uncle combined their savings to help Fang purchase a small apartment in east Beijing. This investment provided Fang a secure living situation to support his career in Beijing. They hope that the money invested in the home purchase will prove to be an asset to them all in the future. Fang saves 80 percent of his monthly income to put toward basic necessities for his parents and himself in the future. His mother is still a housewife and subsistence farmer in the countryside. His father and uncle are migrant laborers who earn petty cash on construction sites. They are reaching the age of retirement, which to Fang means “forcibly jobless” because no one wants to hire elderly construction workers. He is not convinced the social insurance system will guarantee security for him and his family throughout their elderly years. The pension and subsidies directly accessible to his family are too low to rely upon in times of illness. Fang is responsible for providing for himself, his parents and his uncle over the next decades. Such responsibility leads to his high propensity to save, as well as hard work, will power and self-sacrifice. As his family has supported him, he will support them.
There is little time and few resources left for Fang to start a family of his own. Fang’s peers in the hometown married in their early 20s and have raised large families. Fang has always resisted social pressures to fit in with his hometown peers and return there to marry a local girl. He centers his life on providing for his family and pursuing a professional career. He finds the girlfriends of his generation to be overly demanding. They require the suitor to own an apartment, and if that is achieved, then they chirp on about the location and quality of apartment necessary for them to agree to marriage. Men of the 80s generation must achieve a high level of material success to please the modern Chinese woman. Fang hopes to marry a woman with perspective and goals similar to his own. To afford such a wife and then have a child would be a privilege, but for now such a lifestyle is a luxury just out of his reach. At the age of 30, he still has plenty of time. Fang will continue to pursue his career ambitions and uphold his ideals for family life, making progress step-by-step. As the famous saying goes, a journey of a thousand “li” starts with a single step.
Candace Sun was born in Anshan City, Liaoning Province. Her maternal grandfather was an engineer and her paternal grandfather a battalion commander in the Chinese Army. Her parents did well working in factories, and in the 1990s found success as small business owners. Candace’s parents encouraged her to learn traditional Chinese arts and she excels at painting and calligraphy. Ever at the top of her class, she often won school competitions. In elementary school, she was the champion of an academic competition and was awarded a set of the four Chinese classics of literature. She cherished these great works and spent her free time reading the classics and learning other tales of Chinese philosophy.
In 2000, Candace was accepted into Beijing Wuzi University. There she earned a degree in economics. After graduating at the top of her class, she went to work full time at the company that had provided her college internship. She began working in the art department of a Chinese online gaming company as a professional 3D artist.
Her skills in calligraphy and her knowledge of the classics and Chinese mythology were greatly appreciated by her employers. She provided real value to the company’s product line, so once the company launched their IPO on NASDAQ, she was one of the original team members to be handsomely rewarded in stock options. Candace advanced to middle management leadership positions and received English language training from her company. Her ability to clearly express herself in English, and the value she contributes to the development of company product lines provides her more certain opportunity for career advancement.
In 2009, she put her assets into purchasing a fine apartment in one of Beijing’s up-and-coming residential neighborhoods. She views home ownership as a long-term investment and as a way to provide for her parents’ retirement. They live together in her apartment home, carrying for her nourishment as she fulfills the role of breadwinner. Candace’s career goal is to become a senior professional manager for the company. She has successfully passed all graduate admissions examinations to enroll in the MBA program at the University of International Business & Economics in Beijing. She will attend graduate school part-time, while she continues to work full-time in the field of 3D design. She intends develop her skills to add value to her company’s product line and is enthusiastic about contributing to making her company become one of the leading online game companies in the world. She enjoys her work and joyfully pursues her career. At 28 years old, she feels no pressure to marry anytime soon. She has a laissez-faire, or traditional Chinese Taoist wu-wei, go-with-the-flow attitude towards marriage. She has faith that a suitable partner will come into her life as she authentically pursues her dreams.
China’s 80s generation is associated with shared burdens and opportunities. They bore serious pressure to surmount at red-learning in their secondary and University education. As they find their way into the robust modern economy, those with the best credentials have great chances to try a variety of positions and jobs.
There is room for them to pursue entrepreneurial business relationships or devote their daily lives to the growing Chinese multinational companies.
Characteristic for the 80s generation to work long hours and to respect the traditional protocol for obedience in the workplace. Those who want to drive their professional careers at a faster rate to higher levels will benefit from the training that stimulates their creative problem solving skills and cultivate their confidence in taking innovative approaches to career development. Those who proactively reach the credentials to advance to a higher level of industry by saving and investing in advanced training, will be willing to take new employment opportunities when presented to them. In this way, they can realize their dreams, support their families, and infund resiliency throughout the Chinese economy.
The traditional role of religion in China is no different than that among Islam: religion and the state are effectively connected, and a ruler without religious sanction it is as difficult to imagine as a faith independent of the state. The demands of Confucianism, for centuries China’s official system of faith, may be less demanding as that of Islam, but their place in society is similar. They are also addressing the problems that religion is facing the communist regime in Beijing today. If the basic culture of China does not change dramatically, no Chinese leader can rule without any kind of universally accepted moral or ideological language.
Likewise, the concept of religion as an independent good-the realm of individuals and private organizations-will appear odd or even subversive to many Chinese, especially government officials. Not so long ago, there was a feeling that Marxism, which was able to properly mediate by the Mao Zedong party, could actually serve as a new and revolutionary orthodoxy for modem China. Certainly, communism was, in fact, a religion for its early Chinese converts: more than a sociological analysis it was a revelation and a prophecy, which concerned all its beings and was interpreted in sacred texts, many imported from Moscow and often printed in English. This faith has disappeared today, leaving in China a great emptiness that fill some common belief.
Since communism has fallen dramatically in China in recent decades, religious practice has steadily increased in some way or another. An extraordinary and quite unexpected revival has made long-barred Buddhist temples again with worshipers! In Tibet and Xinjiang the Lamaist Buddhist and Islamic faith, respectively have become more and more powerful, even if the inexorable persecution persists. Communist officials now use their ethics of hierarchy and authority to strengthen their rule.
Ironically, only Daoism, perhaps the only truly indigenous faith in China, has actually been eliminated by the almost half century of the communist religious war. Like the remarkable economic development of China, which is far better known, the revival of religion does not appear to be intended by the officials who set it in motion by repeating a few prohibitions. Rather, it has gone far beyond the manageable change they had imagined, as economic development is a powerful factor for Change which can threaten the status of the regime. Although its numbers are relatively small, contemporary Chinese Christianity is a good initial index for these changes and the problems they cause for the central government.
Though communist rule. Religion is not the only answer to these needs, as every visitor will testify: China is now a turbulent country, where droves of merchants, real and figurative, hawk controls their commercial and ideological goods, while a weakening dictatorship to avoid the shipwreck of its authority. China has thus encountered such times of trouble often over its thousands of years of history, and whenever it has, religion, as often as not, has a volatile factor.