China’s Educated Youth Face a Tough Future
China Media Project translates an analysis of China’s educated youth by Professor and Director of the Rural Development Institute’s Social Issues Research Center at the Chinese Academy for Social Sciences (CASS):
China’s so-called “educated youth,” or zhiqing, have played an interesting role in modern Chinese history. The term generally recalls those millions of young people with secondary or university educations who left China’s cities to labor in the countryside beginning in 1953, and especially during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). But the plight of China’s “educated youth” today is an urgent yet overlooked issue in our country, and its implications are not yet fully clear.
Looking at educated youth in China today, we can divide them into two distinct groups. The first group, those who are privileged by virtue of their access to the resources of wealth and power, principally through their parents, have united themselves through shared privileges and vested interests. They have created their own alliance of educated elites holding leading positions in Chinese society. The second, and much larger, group have become united by their common lack of privilege. Shut outside the halls of wealth and power, this second group has formed a sub-layer of educated youths who conscientiously oppose the mainstream values of Chinese society because they have been systematically shut out. While they possess a definite degree of knowledge and experience, this group has been excluded from dominant state institutions (国家体制内), so they tend to drift without stable employment.
This sub-layer of educated youths and their maturing attitudes have far-reaching implications for Chinese society.