GENERATION GAP: China's one-child generation grows up

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 17, 2017 7:03 AM

(Reuters) - The "Class of 2012" grew up with more than their parents or grandparents could dream of – more food, more clothing, more comfort, more opportunities – as China's economy surged during their childhood.

They did not have to struggle like previous generations, or "eat bitterness", giving them a generally positive outlook.

Their lives have also been shaped by the one-child policy, which since the 1970s has aimed to control a swelling population.

Here is what they think about the generation gap.

Wu Qiong, who works in international settlements at a foreign bank:

"When I was getting to know this world, this world had already changed and become relatively developed. I have watched it get better and better, not just become OK or be re-built. I didn't see it being built, I saw it changing."

"We really haven't eaten bitterness."

Hu Ruixin, a computer technician, speaking of the optimism of his generation:

"I think this is related to the age of our generation. Our parents lived hard lives, but our generation are all 'only children' so our lives are not bad. We should stay positive."

Fu Shiwei, an assistant university teacher, who is confident about her generation's prospects when it takes up leadership roles in companies and across the country:

"One rather large difference is that I think my generation is braver than the previous one when making choices, and is more open minded."

Zhang Yulin, a married video game designer:

"The pressure on our generation is fairly large. We are all 'only children', pretty much. The pressure of taking care of parents and the like is very big. The two of us need to support four parents. Housing prices are also extremely high now. As for work, competition is fierce. If I don't work hard, I will be knocked out."

Zheng Yue, an interior designer:

"Only children are different in terms of their temperament. They only think of themselves. They don't have that caring-for-others state of mind, that sense of responsibility."

"This society is too shallow ... The so-called spiritual root now is money. With money many people have peace of mind, but it's not a spiritual root."

Qi Jing, a township leader for the Communist Party Youth League, who grew up in Wuhan:

"When I had great pressure around the time of the college entrance exam, my mom would tell me stories about my dad's business. When he first came to Wuhan he had no one to lean on, five yuan in his pocket, and with no place to live, he slept in a park."

(Reporting by Beijing and Shanghai bureaus; Editing by Philip McClellan)