Could China’s greatest threat be slackers?

Fascinating article in the New York Times about an emerging generation of Chinese who are pushing back against the 996 (9 am to 9 pm, 6 days a week) work culture.

A generation ago, the route to success in China was to work hard, get married and have children. The country’s authoritarianism was seen as a fair trade-off as millions were lifted out of poverty. But with employees working longer hours and housing prices rising faster than incomes, many young Chinese fear they will be the first generation not to do better than their parents. They are now defying the country’s long-held prosperity narrative by refusing to participate in it.

Good for them.

And, naturally, the government does not approve. The phrase for this movement: “laying flat” (tangping) has been banned.

The ruling Communist Party, wary of any form of social instability, has targeted the “lying flat” idea as a threat to stability in China. Censors have deleted a tangping group with more than 9,000 members on Douban, a popular internet forum. The authorities also barred posts on another tangping forum with more than 200,000 members.

China is suffering a demographic drop-off in workers, and these folks know it. It will be interesting to see if banning words has any impact on what is a reasonable demand from workers to work less.

Resistance through silence and stasis is sometimes the most powerful resistance of all.

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