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tǎng píng | 躺平

A popular meme in China featuring actor Ge You in China's first sitcom "I Love My Family"

Lie-down, also known as lie-downism or lie-flat, became a popular expression on Chinese social media around May 2021. Young people use the phrase to describe a passive-aggressive way of resisting involution, or hyper-competition. State-owned media criticized lie-downism, with some internet platforms censoring the phrase.

Lie-downism rose to prominence in May 2021 as a defeatist response to traditional markers of success, including a competitive career, property ownership, and parenting. It is also used to denote despair towards the widening gap between the rich and the poor, and the lack of upward mobility. Closely related was the phrase involution.

Hashtags related to lie-downism racked up millions of views on Weibo and other social media platforms, as state-owned media criticized the purported cynicism. On May 27, 2021, the Communist Youth League’s official Weibo account posted a tribute to young patriots, using the hashtag #当代年轻人从未选择躺平#, which roughly translates to “contemporary youths have never wanted to lie down.” It disabled comment function after drawing thousands of angry replies. Many Weibo users refuted CYL by saying that they would happily serve the country, but not the “capital.” One comment saved by CDT Chinese reads: “Now young people can still say that it’s ok to serve the country, but not ok to serve the capitalists. In 10 or 20 years, when young people say no to both, I’d love to see the result of this development model which bars the general public from enjoying the fruit.” Other key opinion leaders also weighed in on lie-downism, including the editor-in-chief of the Global Times Hu Xijin, famous entrepreneur Yu Minhong, and state TV host Bai Yansong. They have all been ridiculed for being self-serving and tone-deaf to young people’s struggles.

On May 30, 2021, Douban group for lie-downism which had close to ten thousand members was banned.

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