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China’s Post-90s Workers: The Job-Hopping Generation

Only 40% of China’s post-90s graduates stay in their job for longer than 2 years, a new study says. Many young Chinese are not afraid to quit their jobs, with some media even reporting cases of twenty-somethings resigning because “the weather is too cold”.

Manya Koetse

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Only 40% of China’s post-90s graduates stay in their job for longer than 2 years, a new study says. Many young Chinese are not afraid to quit their jobs, with some media even reporting cases of twenty-somethings resigning because “the weather is too cold”. China’s post-90s generation is a job-hopping one, that chooses personal freedom over financial security. Is it true they quit their job over every little thing?

My 24-year-old Chinese friend Nana has just started her third job within a period of three years. She worked at a Beijing office, but soon got bored and then resigned.

Nana was very excited about becoming a henna tattoo artist in the capital’s lively Sanlitun area last year. But the henna tattoo business turned out to be too slow. She now works as a kindergarten teacher. Recently, she told me that she might quit soon: “It’s not really what I want in life.”

 

“8% of post-1990ers have four or more different jobs within a time frame of 3 years.”

 

Nana is not the only post-90s urban Chinese who often changes jobs. According to a recent study by the Mycos research institute (麦可思数据有限公司), the post-1990ers who graduated in 2011 on average have two different employers within a period of three years. The study also says that within three years, 8% has four or more different jobs. Only 38% worked for the same company within a 3-year-period.

The ‘Post-90s generation’ or the ‘Jiǔ líng hòu‘ (九零後, ’90-after’) is a generation in China, especially in urban areas, born between 1990-2000, although the Post-95s generation is generally also viewed as a specific generation with its own distinct characteristics.

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The post-90s generation is often considered to be self-focused. They are generally viewed as bad team players who are much less concerned about hierarchical relations at the workplace than China’s older generations are.

They are also generally considered a confident generation that demands more from a job than just the right salary. They want a job to be interesting, offering room for personal development, and provide them with a suitable working environment.

20110506095938515A Chinese cartoon with post-70s generation (left) saying: “I work overtime.” The post-80s generation says: “I don’t work overtime!”. The post-90s generation (right) says: “I don’t work at all!”

As with all generational cohorts, the post-90s truly are a product of their time. They were the first generation born in a post-Mao (1976) and post-Tiananmen-protest (1989) era, and belong to the one-child-policy (1978) generation. They did not suffer from great hardships in the way their parents and grandparents did, and often grew up with much material wealth in a rapidly developing China.

 

“Quitting my job because the winter is too cold.”

 

Throughout the years, post-90s workers consistently attract the attention of Chinese media, often for writing unconventional resignation letters. Last year, one recently graduated male real estate agent reportedly quit his job because there were “too many women in the workplace”, which “negatively influenced” his personality.

resign

Another resignation that went viral in late 2015 was that of a Hunan female office worker who wrote her employer that she was quitting her job because “winter is too cold”, making it “difficult to get out of bed in the morning”.

 

“For the working post-90s generation, personal fulfillment goes above anything else.”

 

Sina News published an article about the Mycos report, that is titled “Representations of Post-90s Generation in the Workplace” (“90后职场肖像”), on September 13.

In the article, Sina reiterates the study’s findings that for the working post-90s generation, personal fulfillment goes above anything else.

job-hopping

Sina News interviewed several urban post-90ers who recently quit their job.

MA graduate Zhang Yang had a good job at a state enterprise. Although his company paid him very well and often allowed him to travel abroad, he quit anyway. Why? Because the work was “too monotonous”. “If I would’ve continued doing this job,” Zhang said: “every day of the rest of my life would be the same until my retirement. That would be awful.”

Female law graduate Chen Tingting resigned from her job as a secretary in an office because she “could not get along” with her direct superior. The 24-year-old Zhang Bin had three different employers within one year. Not one time did he resign for salary-related reasons, he told Sina – all of them had to do with a “bad atmosphere” at the office, or not being on good terms with his colleagues.

 

“Why is the “post-90s” label used again?”

 

News of the post-90s workplace survey made its rounds on Sina Weibo today. The topic “The Post-90s Generation Quits Their Job for Every Little Thing” (#90后一言不合就辞职#) attracted many comments.

Not all netizens agree that job-hopping has to do with being part of the post-1990s generation per se, and that it is untrue this cohort quits their job “for every little problem”. The post-90s generation often is viewed as being selfish, rude, or only following their own dreams – and many post-90ers do not agree with this view.

“Why is the “post-90s” label used again?”, a 22-year-old netizen named @Lakin says: “Why don’t you write that companies nowadays squeeze out recent graduates? Why don’t you talk about the fact that there’s more and more superficial multi-level marketing trash companies? Why don’t you investigate how the flows of people are now so big that there’s even fraudulent companies? It’s because of those sh*theads that this topic even came about. I’ve already switched jobs 4 times!”

lakin

Another Weibo user agrees with @Lakin that it is more a problem of present-day companies than the post-90s attitude that there are so many people job-hopping: “There’s a reason for everything. Who likes to look for a job and go to interviews every day? If the company would be good, nobody would want to quit! You’re making the post-90s look bad.”

There are also many post-90s generation netizens who recognize themselves in the survey, and understand why many of their generation choose different jobs. “This is my second job, and every day I dread going to work. I feel like a robot, I feel numb,” one post-90s commenter says.

Another popular comment of a post-90s netizen says: “All in all, life is short. Relatively speaking, isn’t it important to be happy? We all have different situations, different living environments and mentalities. It is not worth the trouble to worry about how others see you. We have to be ourselves and do our own things. We can do our duties while enjoying our rights.”

“Who cares about the post-90s generation anyway?” one netizen wonders: “We are the post-00s generation, we are the future!”

– By Manya Koetse

Related Vocabulary

跳槽 (Tiàocáo)- job-hopping
九零後 (Jiǔ líng hòu) – Post-90s generation

Featured image: News2500sz,
Kaixian TV.

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China and Covid19

Announced Changes in Nucleic Acid Testing and Further Easing of Covid Measures Across China

Bus and subway operators in Beijing will no longer refuse entry to passengers without a 48-hour negative nucleic acid certificate.

Manya Koetse

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On Monday, directly after that noteworthy unrest-filled weekend, the hashtag “Multiple Locations Announce Nucleic Acid Testing Changes” (#多地核酸检测通知发生变化#) went trending on Chinese social media, receiving over 660 million clicks by Monday evening.

Immediately following demonstrations in Beijing and a second night of protests in Shanghai and elsewhere, various Chinese media reported how different areas across the country are introducing changes to their current Covid19 testing measures.

On Wednesday, November 30, China’s vice-premier Sun Chunlan made remarks at a meeting on epidemic prevention, underlining the importance of “constantly optimizing” China’s Covid-19 response and talking about a “new stage and mission” – without ever mentioning “zero Covid.”

This is what we know about easing Covid measures thus far:

▶ Strict lockdowns have been lifted in Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, and Chongqing.

▶ On November 28, Guangzhou announced that people who do not actively participate in social life will no longer need to participate in continuous nucleic acid screening. This includes elderly people who stay indoors for long periods of time, students who take online classes, and those who work from home. The change will apply to residents in seven districts, including Haizhu, Panyu, Tianhe, and Baiyun (#广州7区无社会面活动者可不参加全员核酸#).

▶ Guangzhou, according to Reuters, also scrapped a rule that only people with a negative COVID test can buy fever medication over the counter.

Harbin will follow the example of Guangzhou, and will also allow people who are mostly based at home to skip nucleic acid test screenings.

▶ Same goes for Shenyang, and Taiyuan.

▶ In Chongqing, various districts have done widespread Covid testing campaigns, but the local authorities announced that those communities that have not had a positive Covid case over the past five days do not need to participate in nucleic acid screening anymore. This means an end to district-wide testing.

▶ On November 30, Beijing also announced that it will start exempting some people from frequent Covid testing, including those elderly residents who are bound to home and other people who do not go out and have social interactions. This also includes younger students who are following classes online.

▶ Starting from December 5, bus and subway operators in Beijing will no longer refuse entry to passengers without a 48-hour negative nucleic acid certificate (announced on December 2nd).

▶ Although not officially announced, there have been various social media posts and reports about Covid-positive people in Beijing being allowed to quarantine at home if they meet conditions.

Chengdu Metro announced on December 2nd that it will no longer check passengers’ nucleic acid test reports. Passengers still need to scan their travel code and those with a green code can enter. Other public places will reportedly also start to accept the ‘green code’ only without a time limit on nucleic acid testing.

Tianjin metro announced that the 72-hour nucleic acid certificate check will be also be canceled for passengers on the Tianjin metro lines. As in other places, people will still need to wear proper face masks and undergo temperature checks.

▶ In Hangzhou, except for at special places such as nursing homes, orphanages, primary and secondary schools, people’s nucleic acid tests will no longer be checked in public transportation and other public places. They will also stop checking people’s Venue Codes (场所码).

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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China History

Mourning Jiang Zemin, Weibo Turns Black and White

Since the rise of Chinese social media, Jiang Zemin became a recurring part of Chinese memes.

Manya Koetse

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Following the announcement that Jiang Zemin (江泽民), the former president of the PRC, has passed away, various Chinese online platforms have turned into ‘grey’ mode as a sign of mourning. Jiang Zemin died due to leukemia and organ failure. He was 96 years old.

Besides Weibo, the home page of major Chinese websites such as Baidu, Sogou, Taobao, Alipay, Xinhua, People’s Daily, The Paper, and many others all turned into black-and-white mourning mode on Wednesday.

Bilibili turns into grey mode on November 30.

Search engine Sogou also in black and white mode.

On Weibo, one post about Jiang Zemin’s passing received a staggering one million reposts and over two million ‘likes.’ The hashtag “Comrade Jiang Zemin Passed Away at the Age of 96 in Shanghai” (#江泽民同志在上海逝世享年96岁#) had received over 2,5 billion clicks by Wednesday night.

Jiang Zemin was appointed as President of the People’s Republic of China in 1993. In the years before, the former Shanghai Party chief already held official positions as the chairman of the Central Military Affairs Commission and general secretary of the Party. In 2003, Jiang Zemin retired and was replaced by Hu Jintao (Sullivan 2012).

Since the rise of Chinese social media, Jiang became a recurring part of Chinese memes. Jiang had created a wide group of online fans, who are commonly referred to as ‘toad worshippers’ as the online phenomenon of ‘worshipping’ Jiang Zemin is called mo ha (膜蛤), ‘toad worship’ (Fang 2020, 38). The entire phenomenon has become its own subculture that is called ‘mo ha culture’ (móhá wénhuà, 膜蛤文化).

What started as a joke – nicknaming Jiang a ‘toad’ due to his big glasses, signature pants, and wide smile, – became an actual online movement of people who were appreciative of Jiang Zemin.

They loved him, not only because the former leader spoke many languages and other talents, and because of his unique appearance, but mainly because he was not scared to show his emotions, was very expressive, and good at telling stories.

One famous example of this, is when Jiang Zemin got upset with a Hong Kong journalist in 2000 and told them off using three languages (link to video, also here). The much-repeated quote “too young, too simple, sometimes naive” comes from this noteworthy moment as Jiang told journalists that they still had a lot to learn, whereas he had gone through “hundred of battles,” saying “I’ve seen it all.” This also led to Jiang later being called ‘the Elder’ (长者) by netizens.

Another popular Jiang Zemin video is when he met with American journalist Mike Wallace in August of 2000 in Beidaihe. During the interview, the two discussed sensitive topics including the Falun Gong and Tiananmen protests. The interview reportedly was one of the longest ever between an American journalist and a Chinese head of state (watch here).

A study by Kecheng Fang (2020) about ‘China’s toad worship culture’ suggests that for many online fans of Jiang, the cult around him is apolitical, playful, and part of a shared digital cultural tradition.

For some, however, it does hold some political meaning to ‘worship’ Jiang, who only became a popular online meme around 2014, after Xi Jinping took power as a conservative strongman who is not as emotionally expressive. Fang describes how one meme creator said: “We couldn’t express our criticism through normal channels, so we turned to other indrect ways, including lauding Jiang’s personality and characteristics in various ways” (2020, 45).

Although Jiang became popular among younger Chinese on online platforms over the past decade, he was not necessarily that popular at the time of his leadership, and opinions vary on the legacy he leaves behind. Jiang continuously pushed for reform and opening-up after Deng Xiaoping’s rule.

As summarized by Foreign Policy, Jiang oversaw two crucial transitions that shaped and improved the lives of the people of China: “First, he peacefully guided his country out of the shadow of China’s founding revolutionaries, who had spent decades purging one another and at times caused great pain and sorrow for everyone else. Second, although hesitant at first, Jiang came to embrace the market economy.”

As various places across China have seen unrest and protests over the past few days, the announcement of Jiang’s death comes at a sensitive time.

Many on Chinese social media are burning virtual candles in memory of Jiang Zemin today. “I will fondly recall your style and manners,” some say.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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References:

Fang, Kecheng. 2020. “Turning a communist party leader into an internet meme: the political and apolitical aspects of China’s toad worship culture.” Information, Communication & Society, 23 (1): 38-58.

Sullivan, Lawrence R. 2012. Historical Dictionary of the Chinese Communist Party. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press. See page: 3-43, 208.

 

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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