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Happiness an elusive dream for young people in China

It is reported that college graduates this year are facing more tough recruitment environment. Photo:

A recent article in People’s Daily titled ‘Why the post 80 generation is becoming ‘old’ and lethargic’ has created a huge buzz on the Internet. In front of their parents who still regard them as ‘innocent’, this generation of young people bemoan that they may not be able to feel young again.

Many people in the rest of the world may wonder why. Le Monde, a Spain-based newspaper, conjectured, “China’s surging house prices have destroyed young people’s true love and innovative power. They should be going to sing, travel and party. But now, right after graduation, they act like middle-aged people calculating all day for making ends meet. Their lives, from the very beginning, are material, sophisticated and not romantic and spiritual at all.”
China, as an emerging power for the rest of the world, has created miracles in these years; still it is a fact that most Chinese people feel unhappy about their lives. The infamous three mountains—housing, medical care and education are burdening Chinese people so much that they could hardly breathe.

The huge gap between the rich and poor, an overwhelming number of second-generation rich, degrading social morality, food safety, environmental pollution, and such kind of things are all threatening common people’s happy lives……So we just wonder why in a society where a human being’s development is said to be valued, youth could hardly find happiness. Is that because of the breakneck pace of economic change, or are there other reasons for the elusive dream of happiness?

Of course, it is a completely different story for the second-generation rich. Photo:

Material matters

After a field survey, an American professor found that the Chinese young people are living in a ‘miserable world’. There are only two things they are supposed to care—success and hard work! So, I wonder when they can hardly afford the time to be happy, why even talk about the pursuit of happiness. From the elementary school to college, they are kept busy with various examinations; after graduation, they need to find a job and life partners; while after getting married and having kids, they are supposed to teach their own kids; even after their retirement, they need to look after their children’s children…

Yes, the Chinese are living more like a machine than human beings—a machine for making money, a machine to be enslaved. This perspective can help you understand better. Right, then how could slaves be allowed to be happy?
For most young people in China the minute they leave school, the minute they become underclass. Apparently, realities are not as rosy as the beautiful picture depicted by our CCTV (China Central TV) news reports. If the dreams are plump, then the realities are skinny.

We shoulder incredibly high house prices, eat poisonous food, drink unclean water, breath heavily polluted air while being burdened by the second highest tax rate in the world, considering 70% of our pensions are being squandered by the so-called civil servants who do not pay taxes at all. Our electricity is more expensive than America, our cars are more expensive than America, our fuel is more expensive than America, and the toll tax is more expansive than America, while we receive the most meager salaries for working 24/7/365.

When ‘money is everything’ becomes our motto, men begin to define happiness as owning an apartment in the cities, and women define their happiness as marrying a man who owns a home in the city. The rich feel happy when they could spend money on pretty women; and the poor feel happy when they could just earn enough money to make life go on.

So, all things related to true love and morality are thus abandoned by the extremely materialistic and capitalistic society. Money can’t bring us happiness but it definitely could make pains more acceptable, a famous comedian once said. Now, the saying looks like the perfect description of the socialism with Chinese characteristics (有中国特色社会主义).


A cartoon depicting a degrading social moralities. Cartoon:

Spiritual pursuit

For the past decades, the mainstream culture has highly encouraged the independence of the youth. But the reality is the opposite. Average Chinese are supposed to buy their first house at the age of 27. Let’s say they go to college at 18, graduate at 22, and in five years, they need to purchase a house, which is apparently not possible. So, the money comes actually from their parents.

And naturally, from choosing a major, finding job, getting married to even having kids, they have to follow their parents’ heart. If all the big things in life they could not decide for themselves, then how could they be called independent?

On the other hand, Chinese youth is pressured to find a job through which they could earn a living, so they are usually not allowed to consider about their own interests. They choose careers mainly for money but not for their dreams. And, after getting such a job, they are supposed to work hard, accumulate wealth and don’t dare to relax even for just one minute. How pathetic! From birth to death, they never get the chance to enjoy life.

Human beings are being ruined by purely capitalistic pursuits and losing their souls. The poor are worried all day about losing their job, not being able to afford a house and family; while the rich are also worried all day about the shrinking of their wealth, collapse of their business, and cheating by their wives or mistresses. The overwhelming insecurity is confusing our era. Yes, when you could not afford a home, medical care, education, and true love, happiness would be just a distant dream.

The article is translated and edited from a blog essay by netizen "Feng Qing Yang". All the opinions and perspectives in the article do not represent the views of

Please refer to the Chinese article at the following address:

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