The Balinghou
March 7, 2013 12:50 PM   Subscribe

Generation Gap: "The parents of China’s post-1980 generation [the bā líng hòu (八零後)] (themselves born between 1950 and 1965) grew up in a rural, Maoist world utterly different from that of their children. In their adolescence, there was one phone per village, the universities were closed and jobs were assigned from above. If you imagine the disorientation and confusion of many parents in the West when it comes to the internet and its role in their children’s lives, and then add to that dating, university life and career choices, you come close to the generational dilemma. Parents who spent their own early twenties labouring on remote farms have to deal with children who measure their world in malls, iPhones and casual dates." posted by zarq (16 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Get off rural, Maoist lawn!
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 12:57 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Really, really good article. Can't believe I've never seen the magazine before. Thanks for posting!
posted by sensate at 2:06 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Get off rural, Maoist lawn!

That could be a big-character poster: The Youth Cadres Should Vacate The Millet Patches Of Their Elders
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:24 PM on March 7, 2013 [10 favorites]

Excellent piece, thanks!
posted by languagehat at 2:42 PM on March 7, 2013

sensate: "Can't believe I've never seen the magazine before."

They're new -- have only been around since September! The quality of the writing is great. :)

posted by zarq at 2:57 PM on March 7, 2013

Great article! I worked with young Chinese men in the late 1990's, helping with corporate housing and rental cars, dinners, etc. We had a problem with the maid service, as they were only there to do things like vacuum, clean the bathrooms, maybe change the linens. But the apartments were really messed up, bags of garbage accumulating, carpets ruined, etc.

I finally asked a senior manager, who was Chinese, what the problem was, and he told me that a maid in China would do everything. As in, these young men didn't know they had to take the bags of garbage out to the big bin in the parking lot. So there was some things we had to work on there, because apartment complexes and car rental companies were reluctant to be our vendors anymore (they were teaching their cohorts to drive, with more than a few dings on the rental cars). Such polite and lovely people, and I got lots of invites to China. Wish I could have gone!

Also, see this photo site about the Bling Dynasty.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:13 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Interestingly, I first got to know James Palmer as a moderator on the RPGnet forums. He also wrote a fairly well-reviewed history of Roman Ungern von Sternberg.
posted by jiawen at 3:27 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Amazing article. The last few paragraphs of perspective are really well done.

A wonderfully cynical flowchart was circulated this Chinese New Year, showing the barrage of demands and criticisms from relatives aimed at young people returning home for the holiday. If you’re single, why aren’t you dating? If you’re dating, why aren’t you married?...

Anyone got a link to this?
posted by No-sword at 3:33 PM on March 7, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thanks, excellent.
posted by Wolof at 8:22 PM on March 7, 2013

This reminds me of an article I once read.

When you are introduced to a Chinese person, here’s one question you may want to throw in:

Which year did you enter the university?

The university-entry tip comes from a Taiwanese friend of mine living in Beijing. If you encounter an executive who says he entered the university in 1977/78, “pay attention,” he said. These dates place this Chinese acquaintance among "the next-generation of Chinese leaders who are in the best position to change China--either in business and/or in politics.

The article explains the historical events that made these dates especially significant.
posted by eye of newt at 8:33 PM on March 7, 2013

No-sword: "A wonderfully cynical flowchart was circulated this Chinese New Year, showing the barrage of demands and criticisms from relatives aimed at young people returning home for the holiday. If you’re single, why aren’t you dating? If you’re dating, why aren’t you married?"

Oh my goodness, yes. I'm the youngest of three cousins on my mom's side of the family, but because I had a Western education I'm also considered the most "mature". I get more leeway when it comes to dating without excess familial intervention (though I do get plenty of "bring your boyfriend to China so we can vet him" type jokes) but that just means I get conscripted into trying to read the minds of my older cousins. One of them has been with his girlfriend for five years, a choice that no one in the family approves of, and I've been asked to try and run intervention and make him see reason, whatever that means. The other one is supposedly "still naive" and "doesn't understand girls" and I've been encouraged to nudge him along, never mind that I know he's had a girlfriend for ages that he simply doesn't tell the family about.

(Introducing your partner to your family is a Pretty Big Deal, obvs. I was told that even referring to your dating partner as a girlfriend/boyfriend, 女朋友/男朋友, was a tacit admission of being on the road to marriage. My cousin with the 5-year-old relationship still doesn't call his girlfriend that, and introduces her as a friend. The implications are just understood.)

Anyway, thanks for posting this, zarq, and thanks also to eye of newt for that fascinating article. The temporal relationship of the Cultural Revolution to China's future is a pretty big deal especially given the change of leadership in China right now. The incoming Premier is the only Premier who has ever been, and who will ever have been, someone who experienced rural labour (下乡) during the cultural revolution, and that is seen by the populace as a very positive sign of his resilience and resourcefulness and compassion. It'll be an interesting decade to watch.
posted by Phire at 8:32 AM on March 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

Great article zarq. It really is astonishing the pace of change between the generations in China.
posted by arcticseal at 9:48 AM on March 8, 2013

Rich Chinese Kid pays 2M bail after killing one in car crash in US.

This article also referenced the fu er dai, and the disdain and aversion Chinese netizens have towards the rich. I was particularly interested in the automatic assumption that the money his family paid was laundered or embezzled, and that it seemed like an unpatriotic act to pay bail to the US government.
posted by Phire at 2:55 PM on March 11, 2013

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