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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.

[rp4wp]

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 editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Insight

“I’m One of 1.4 Billion” Goes Trending as China’s Population Now Tops the 1.4B Number

China’s total population is up, but its birth rate has fallen to the lowest level.

Manya Koetse

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According to the latest numbers, China’s birth rate has hit a new low, but state media are instead highlighting the fact that China’s population has now surpassed 1,4 billion.

This Friday, official data, released annually by the National Bureau of Statistics, shows that the total Chinese mainland’s population has surpassed 1.4 billion at the end of 2019.

In light of this news, Chinese state media outlet People’s Daily launched the hashtag “I’m One of 1.4 Billion” (#我就是14亿分之一#), propagating a sense of unity among such a massive population.

This message was also reiterated by other accounts, such as the Shenzhen Police, that said: “We’re all one big family, our name is China, we have a lot of brothers and sisters.”

China’s Birth Rate Falls to Lowest

While People’s Daily is publicizing the 1.4 billion number, the annual statistics also show that China’s birth rate has fallen to its lowest since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

Although only 14,65 million were born in mainland China in 2019, the death rate of the country was also lower than before – meaning that the total population number still went up from 1,39 billion to 1,4 billion in the last year.

One thread started by People’s Daily on Weibo received nearly 530,000 likes by Friday afternoon, with thousands of Weibo users posting a response to the latest numbers.

Many netizens responded to the news in a similar fashion, saying: “There are already enough people [in China] now, I don’t need to have children anymore,” or: “Good, there’s so many people, I don’t have to worry about having kids.”

China’s marriage rates hit a new low in 2019 after dropping year by year.

Over recent years, various trends in Chinese (online) media have highlighted the existing social issues behind China’s dropping marriage and birth rates.

The rising costs of living and the fact that many among Chinese younger generations “prefer to marry late,” are often mentioned as an explanation for China’s decline in marriage rates and the interrelated lowering birth rates.

But China’s so-called ‘leftover’ single men have also been pointed out as a “crisis,” with China having millions of more men than women of marriageable age – partly a consequence of the one-child policy and general preference for baby boys.

Although Chinese couples are allowed to have two children since 2015, the new regulations have not had the desired effect, with many couples simply not wanting a second child or not being able to afford it.

For some years, ‘leftover women’ were mentioned as a reason for China’s declining marriage rates; China’s well-educated, career-oriented, urban single women were sometimes singled out for making it harder for China’s unmarried men to find a wife because of their ‘choice’ to postpone marriage and family life. This has increased the pressure on China’s single women to get married, which has become a recurring topic of debate on Chinese social media.

Today’s responses on Weibo seem to indicate that many young people are still not very eager to have children. “Let’s not add to the population, it’s enough burden for the planet,” some say.

Others say the number of 1,4 billion make them or their action seem “irrelevant” and “tiny.”

There are also those with entirely different concerns about the number: “There are 1,4 billion in China now, and yet I’m still not able to find a boyfriend!”

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

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©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Insight

Top 10 Buzzwords in Chinese Online Media

From blockchain to hardcore, this is an overview of China’s media top buzzwords over the past year.

Jialing Xie

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Some of the expressions and idioms that have been buzzing in Chinese media the past year. What’s on Weibo’s Jialing Xie explains. 

Last year, we listed China’s “top ten buzzwords” for you (link), giving an overview of some noteworthy expressions on Chinese social media and in the media in 2018. Recently, the chief editor of the magazine Yǎowén Jiáozì (咬文嚼字) has again announced the “top ten buzzwords” in China of the past year.

Yǎowén Jiáozì, which literally means “to pay excessive attention to wording,” is a monthly publication focused on the Chinese language. Chinese (state) media have been widely propagating the magazine’s selection of the top words and terms of the past year in newspapers and on Chinese online media. The ten terms have also become a topic of discussion on Weibo over the past month, with the topic receiving 290 million views.

We’ve listed them for you here:

 

1. 文明互鉴 (wénmíng hùjiàn): “Mutual Learning”

  • Literal Meaning: “Mutual learning,” “Exchanges and mutual learning among different cultures and civilizations.”
  • Original context: This expression can be traced back to the era around and during the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), a time of division, bloody battles, and political chaos. The demands for solutions brought forth a broad range of philosophies and schools. During this time, Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism, Mohism and many others were developed leading to the phenomenon known as the “Contention of a Hundred Schools of Thought.”
  • What does it mean now? In 2014, at the 4th summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward a major initiative to convene a conference on dialogue between Asian countries followed by an introduction emphasizing how “diversity spurs interaction among civilizations, which promotes mutual learning.” This sentence and expression were later repeated in speeches during various major events. In May 2019, President Xi once again emphasized the idea during the CICA, making the term pop up across Chinese state media again. 

 

2. 区块链 (qū kuài liàn): “Blockchain”

  • Literal Meaning: Blockchain Technology
  • Context: “Blockchain” is no longer a new concept since it was first introduced to the public around a decade ago. Development of the malleable blockchain technology has become an important trend in China’s tech market through the years. 
  • What does it mean now?  Blockchain was all the buzz in China over the past year. In early 2019, the Cyberspace Administration of China released the Provisions on the Administration of Blockchain Information Services. In October, President Xi singled out blockchain technology as an important breaking point in developing China’s core innovative technology and emphasized the importance of investing and stepping up research on the standardization of blockchain to increase China’s influence and power in the global arena. 

 

3. 硬核 (yìng hé): “Hardcore”

  • Literal Meaning: “Hardcore” – 硬 = hard, 核 = core. 
  • Context: “Hardcore” is known as the abbreviation for Hardcore Punk, a punk rock music genre originated in Southern California during the late 1970s. The term was later used to reference things of a certain level of complexity, such as “hardcore games” (versus casual games). The term started to mean something along the lines of “terrific” (厉害) or “strict”/”rigid” (刚硬)  and in Chinese, started being used in expressions such as “Tiger mom” (硬核妈妈) or “Hardcore game players” (硬核玩家).
  • What does it mean now?  As the Chinese science fiction blockbuster The Wandering Earth (流浪地球) was categorized as ‘hardcore science fiction’ (硬核科幻), the term ‘hardcore’ resurfaced as a popular word often popping up in (online) conversations.

 

 4. 融梗 (róng gěng): “Mixing up ideas”

  • Literal Meaning: “Integrating other people’s ideas into one’s own work” or “integrating punchlines,” “mixing up plots.”
  • Context: Over the past two decades, many literary works, including a few by prestigious Chinese writers, have been suspected of plagiarism and triggered heated discussions online — when it comes to drawing inspiration from other art and literary creations, where is the boundary between artistic freedom and plagiarism?
  • What does it mean now?  Soon after the Chinese movie Better Days (少年的你) came out in October (read more here), the writer of the original novel was accused of plagiarizing parts of Japanese mystery writer Keigo Higashino’s work. Many netizens argued that in the field of online literature, borrowing ideas from others (融梗) is ubiquitous and does not necessarily equate plagiarism because the act (融梗) itself requires original work and creativity. From October to now, the term has become a recurring topic in Chinese media. 

 

 5. “XX 千万条,XX 第一条” (XX qiān wàn tiáo, XX dì yī tiáo): “Out of millions of things,..is the first one”

  • Literal Meaning: “Out of ten million things,.. xxx comes first as the rule of thumb.” 
  • Context: List thinking is prevailing in China; from codes and regulations enacted by the government and laid down by companies, to the way teachers outline their lectures, the usage of “articles” (sometimes used as ‘rules’)  or “items” (条) to organize ideas and outline objectives is commonly seen in daily life.
  • What does it mean now? This phrase caught people’s attention after appearing in the aforementioned science fiction film The Wandering Earth, where a robot voice reminds a driver of traffic safety in a noteworthy way, saying something along the lines of: “There are thousands of road rules, but safety rules always come first. If you disregard safety, your loved ones will end up in tears.” Despite sounding like a sketch that rhymes poorly in Chinese, the lines stuck around and were later also used by Chinese traffic police across the country. The sentence structure is now also more often applied in various other contexts, for example: “There are thousands of things good for health, but sleep is the most important.”

 

6. 柠檬精 (níngméng jīng): “Lemon monster”

  • Literal Meaning: “Lemon mythical spirit” or “Sour lemon goblin”
  • Context: In ancient Chinese superstitions, it’s believed that animals and non-living objects may have the potential to grow into something with spiritual and immortal characteristics if meeting certain criteria. One of the criteria is to be around long enough, usually hundreds of years – if not thousands. For instance, in the classical work Journey to the West (西游记), the four main characters except Tang Sanzang are all spiritual beings derived from animal prototypes. 
  • What does it mean now? Lemon tastes sour (酸), which is often used to describe the feeling of envy or jealousy. When lemon becomes a spiritual being, it basically means the lemon has reached the ultimate stage of being a lemon and maximized its characteristics such as being terribly sour. The phrase is used to deride those who feel envious of others’ possession and achievement. Lately, the word is more often seen in a self deprecating humoristic context. For instance, when someone says “I’m a lemon jing now/I feel sour now( 我柠檬精了/我酸了)”, instead of expressing envy towards others, it’s more about acknowledging others more advantageous position compared to one’s own. 

 

7. The 996 work schedule 

  • Literal Meaning: 996 working hour system
  • Context: 996 is a work schedule commonly practiced by many companies in the internet and tech industry in China. With the 996 schedule, employees are required to work from 9 am to 9  pm, 6 days per week. 
  • What does it mean now? In April 2019, Jack Ma, the co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba Group, commented on 996 during an internal meeting with Alibaba employees. Ma’s comments seemed to justify how companies and employees can both benefit from the work schedule, however, the comments quickly triggered criticism after widely circulating online for allegedly violating of the Labour Law of the People’s Republic of China. 

 

8. “我太难(南)了” (wǒ tài nán le): “Life is so hard for me” 

  • Literal Meaning: “I’m feeling uneasy” or “life is so hard for me” 
  • Context: The phrase originated from a 10-second video self-posted by a user on video-sharing site Kuaishou earlier in 2019. As the video begins, the user – an older Chinese guy –  says to the camera: “I’m feeling uneasy…” followed by sad music. He then continues to say “Lao tie [bro/guys], (I) have been under a lot of stress lately.” The video, in which the man dramatically drops his head in his hands and seems to cry without tears, quickly went viral. The phrase “I’m feeling uneasy” was quickly adopted and applied in daily conversations.  
  • What does it mean now? The broad circulation of this phrase on the internet reflects that the uneasy feeling about life is relatable to many people. Acknowledging the stress in a self-deprecating humorous tone is in itself a way of relieving stress. To add a sense of humor to this phrase, many replace the initial character “难” (nán, adj. difficult) with “南” (nán, adj.& n. south), which is believed to be taken from the mahjong tile “南风”(south wind).  

 

9. “我不要你觉得,我要我觉得” (wǒ bùyào nǐ juédé, wǒ yào wǒ juédé): “I don’t want to know what you think, I only care about what I think”

  • Literal Meaning: “I don’t want to know what you think, I only care about what I think.”
  • Context: The line was taken from Xiaoming Huang, one of the guests in the third season of the entertainment TV show “Chinese Restaurant”, which was broadcasted in the summer of 2019. In the show, Huang, who took the role as the manager of the restaurant, is self-centered, and often disregards the opinions of others in matters such as menu ideas or pricing, showing his blind self-confidence and arrogance. In addition to this line, Huang’s frequently used language includes “There is no need to discuss this matter”, “Listen to me, I have the final say” and so on, and it spread quickly on the internet.  
  • What does it mean now? The popularity of this line reflects people’s ridicule and resentment against arrogant and dominant personalities.

 

10. 霸凌主义 (bàlíng zhǔyì): “Bully-ism”

  • Literal Meaning: “Bully-ism”
  • Context: The word 霸凌 (bàlíng) comes from the English word “bully.” Here, it refers to bullying other countries in the face of conflicts between nations. 
  • What does it mean now? As the trade conflict between the US and China was ongoing in 2019, many believed that the current government administration of the United States has been handling international affairs in almost a bullying manner. The slogan “America First” is also often perceived as a declaration in front of the entire world that the interests of the United States come first. As a buzzword, “bullyism” has come to be used by Chinese media in the context of international affairs. 

 

By Jialing Xie
Follow @whatsonweibo

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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