‘Lying flat' gains traction in China as youngsters defy norms, Beijing not happy
The 'laying flat' (tangping) trend is gaining traction in China, contradicting the country's long-held success narrative of hard labour. Protests have taken place around the country over the current 996 system, which requires employees to work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. The Chinese government is dealing with a new type of protest from its population, particularly the youth. The 'laying flat' movement entails doing as little as possible when lying down. Fears among the youthful population that they will not be able to perform better than their parents sparked the movement. Employees are working harder and for longer hours, yet costs are growing faster than wages, causing concern. According to local media estimates, China's jobless rate for individuals aged 16 to 24 is 13.1%, while the national unemployment rate is 5.5 percent. Furthermore, over 20 crore young people in China have graduated in the last year, making them job-ready. In China, a generation ago, achieving success required a lot of effort. However, this new movement attempts to reject the status quo by refusing to participate in the country's long-held prosperity narrative. According to a story in The New York Times, China's internet regulator has also instructed web sites to "strictly prohibit" new tangping post. Tangping has been labelled "shameful" by the state news media. Experts, however, believe the initiative marks a watershed moment for China. "Young people feel a type of pressure that they can't describe, and they believe promises have been broken," said Xiang Biao, an Oxford University professor of social anthropology who studies Chinese society. "People have realised that material advancement is no longer the most essential source of purpose in life," Xiang added. China has a 996 culture, which implies that employees must work from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. Protests over the practise erupted in 2019, sparking discussion among major Chinese corporations.