Censors deleted an essay suggesting that Xi Jinping was responsible for the youth unemployment crisis that has given birth to the viral “Kong Yiji literature” genre. The “Kong Yiji” meme is a reference to a 1918 Lu Xun story of the same name about early 20th-century China’s social woes that has come to symbolize the choice faced by today’s recent college graduates: pursue a white-collar career and risk unemployment or “take off their scholar’s gown” and work a blue-collar job they had hoped to avoid through education. The censored essay, originally published to ByteDance-owned news platform Toutiao, was titled, “Instead of Making Kong Yiji Take Off His Scholar’s Gown, How About Stripping the Emperor of His New Clothes?” Censors are skittish about “Kong Yiji literature” as a potentially subversive social movement. They deleted a viral anthem about the genre that went: “This corrupt society’s got fuck-all to do with me!” They’ve also deleted a “Kong Yiji literature” essay that blamed Kong’s poverty on his lack of connections to the “Zhao family,” an allusion to political elites born of a separate Lu Xun short story. This latest censored essay was likely taken down for seemingly implying that Xi Jinping is responsible for the Kong Yiji phenomenon due to his mismanagement of the Chinese economy. The relevant excerpt has been translated below:
Speaking of Kong Yiji and his gown, I recall another famous garment—the Emperor’s new clothes. A single stupid lie had the emperor strutting around naked while pretending to wear a resplendent new imperial gown. His counselors and subjects also lied, by singing the praises of clothing that simply did not exist. But an illusion will never become real: one day it will be shattered. When a small child punctured the mirage, more and more people stood up to speak the truth. All that remained was the emperor’s shame and the newly awakened masses.
The economy is in the toilet, and unemployment is severe. Rather than make Kong Yiji take off his scholar’s gown, how about stripping the Emperor of his new clothes? [Chinese]