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.

Languages in Tibet under threat — and traditions at risk too

Languages in Tibet under threat — and traditions at risk too

Tibet’s many languages are under threat from Beijing’s policies and economic realities, putting cultural traditions and memories at risk. Tsupkhu Lama in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, India in June 2019. (Photo by Li Keira Yin) This story won honorable...

Li Keira Yin of The Thacher School examines the difficulties that minority languages face surviving in Tibet without falling into the trap of concluding that it’s all the fault of the Communist Party leadership in Beijing when economic pressures in a globalized economy are part of the explanation. For her nuanced view, Yin draws from her unique perspective as someone raised in China who is studying in the United States. Her account of the complexities of language in Tibet started when Yin listened to her Chinese grandmother speak a dialect at home while speaking in Mandarin when picking up the phone. “I started wondering why dialects and minority languages have to be overpowered by Mandarin in China, and so I dug deeper,” Yin said. A lesson for other students struggling to understand how their lives fit into the bigger scheme of things.

Exercise: Ask students to discuss when it’s important for authorities to protect minority languages.

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