The Chinese dream of being collectively prosperous — and living lives with precocious children, luxe cars, and cozy homes — is dead, and Gen Z has the receipts to show for it.
To date, more than 300 million Chinese people have viewed a forum thread titled “My real savings at 26” on the Twitter-like Weibo platform. Insider saw hundreds of posts in which people shared screenshots of their bank statements, claiming to be 26 and flat broke.
At press time, more than 12,000 people had posted on the viral Weibo forum, which is akin to a subreddit.
One Weibo user in the southwestern Sichuan province confessed to having $0.14 in savings.
Another Weibo user in Anhui, eastern China, said they had $21.29 in their bank account — and that was the paycheck they had just received for a day’s work.
“My savings at 26. What a joke,” one Weibo user in Guangdong wrote, posting on Weibo a record of some $1,890 in savings.
“I’m 26 this year too. Savings? What savings?” a Weibo user in Jiangsu wrote, showing a screenshot of $67 in savings in their bank account. “Doesn’t everyone just live paycheck to paycheck and spend their entire salary?”
While being broke might not be a big deal for freewheeling Gen Z-ers in the Western world, it is serious business for Chinese people. The pinnacle of success in China could be summed up in one word: 孨. Pronounced “zhuan,” the term was coined in 2012 and refers to the markers of personal accomplishment for the Chinese man: house (房子), car (车子), and wife (妻子).
To put things into perspective, the average Chinese Gen Z-er earns around $596 a month, per Statista. They also face a brutal job market — one in five Chinese youths aged 16 to 24 were unemployed in April. And at the same time, they’re spending more than the millennials and Gen X on luxury goods and cosmetics.
And now that China’s Gen Z is feeling the pain, perhaps one Weibo comment — liked more than 700 times at press time — sums it up best.
“The students who’ve just graduated are now feeling the true pain of having their asses kicked by Chinese society and the workplace,” Yidali Neizhinu, a Chongqing-based Weibo user, wrote.
“Before the pandemic, people were flexing and saying ‘A 30-year-old without a million yuan can’t be considered a person’ and ‘a man in a big city who doesn’t own a house doesn’t deserve a wife,'” they added. “Now that you guys have faced reality, and realized that money is hard as shit to earn — how does it feel to eat your words?”
People shared their savings amounts on Weibo in the Chinese yuan; conversions to the USD are accurate as of May 19. Insider was not able to verify any of the individual bank screenshots.
Source : Business Insider