Escaping the Rat Race: An Emerging Counter-Culture

While the rise of consumerism in China continues to attract attention, Monica Tan turns to the backlash against it. From Tea Leaf Nation:

It’s happened all over the world, and it’s happening in China too. As the country’s middle class swells in number–and its people discover the pleasures and disappointments of a life spent pursuing material comfort–there comes the emergence of a distinct counter-culture. In Chinese, they are the wenyi qingnian (文艺青年), or wenqing for short, literally meaning “cultured youth.” It’s China’s closest equivalent to the alternatively beloved and reviled English word “hipster.”

[…] Behind these Chinese counter-cultures lies a hard reality. A recently released Pew Global Attitudes Survey showed that 81% of those polled in China agreed with the following statement: “The rich just get richer while the poor get poorer.” And as Foreign Policy reported last month, the country’s gender imbalance—120 boys for every 100 girls—has put serious pressure on the nation’s bachelors. Those hunting for a bride have come to understand that they should come calling only when armed with an apartment. This, even though “the average property in a top-tier Chinese city now costs between 15 and 20 times the average annual salary.”