To resist in China: Touch a fish, be in your Buddha nature

To resist in China: Touch a fish, be in your Buddha nature

Social media memes are at the forefront of the latest form of passive resistance against China’s grinding work culture. “Lying flat” meme. I’m supposed to write a piece for News Decoder, but if I were a hip young Chinese, maybe I’d just “lie flat”...

So much reporting about China by Western journalists focuses on the Communist Party, human rights and economic growth, that it is refreshing to read an account by an “old China hand” that explores a quiet rebellion by Chinese youth expressed in purposefully ambiguous social media memes. Lying flat, touching a fish, being Buddha-like and saying “Whatever” sound innocuous enough, but they belie deep disenchantment among many young Chinese over “the relentlessness that has driven the economy to growth rates far faster than any developed country in the West,” as David Schlesinger puts it. Schlesinger’s account is all the more relevant as many young people outside China, fed up with COVID-19, are deserting the workaday world for a time out.

Exercise: Ask students to list their main grievances and what they can do about them.

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