Chinese youth hit by record unemployment

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Chinese youth hit by record unemployment

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Despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s assurances that the country’s youth are “living an extraordinary time”, recent statistics tell a vastly different story: One in five Chinese under 24 years old are currently out of work, the highest rate ever recorded. FRANCE 24 reports from Shanghai, where young people say the country’s “zero-Covid” policy and an overall slowing economy are preventing them from seeing the bright future Xi has promised.

Months after his graduation, Zhang Jialiang, who holds a diploma in maritime transport, is still without a job.

“I applied to more than 70 jobs, but I was only called back two or three times for interviews,” he says, recounting how prior to his graduation, he had been promised a job with a large shipping company. But China’s “zero-Covid” policy suddenly put an end to that, at least for now.

“I always thought that my career was set. But this year, because of the pandemic, there are too many uncertainties. Right now, I don’t know what the future will bring.”

Zhang isn’t alone. Almost 20 percent of China’s under-24-year-olds are now unemployed.

This stands in stark contrast to Xi‘s recent assurances that the country’s youth face “incredibly bright prospects of realising their dreams”.

Since 2021, China has also seen a youth movement that rejects societal pressure to dedicate their lives to productivity and results. The protest movement is known as “tang ping”, or “lying flat”, and has gone viral.

“It’s been four months that I’ve been lying flat, and you? How long have you been unemployed?” one Chinese youth writes on social media, while another states: “I feel like I’ve been abandoned by the world, so I’m lying flat every day.”

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