Why Are Chinese Youth Forced To Compare Themselves To Character Kong Yiji, Scholar Turned Beggar?

ED Times
2 min readJun 6

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By Palak Dogra

The youngsters in China are forced to compare themselves with a Chinese literature character, Kong Yiji, a scholar turned beggar. However, do you know why? It is because China is experiencing a youth unemployment crisis. Hence, they are forced to compare their fate with that of Kong Yiji.

Unemployment In China

According to research, the country’s unemployment rate reached a new high of 20.4 percent in April. The figures were released barely one month before 11.6 million students prepare to graduate from colleges and vocational schools and enter the labour sector.

President Xi Jinping’s request to “eat bitterness” shocked the nation’s youth, who are prepared to enter the labour force. This is a translation of a local colloquial word that means to remain positive in the face of adversity.

Fresh graduates are apparently hearing the same thing from their teachers and parents, who are pressuring them to work manual labour instead of the positions for which they have acquired degrees.

Why Is It So?

According to Nancy Qian, Professor of Economics at Northwestern University, China implemented lockdowns as part of the government’s zero-COVID policy, which was more economically harmful than other countries’ containment efforts. According to the reports, China’s economic recovery has lagged behind others.

The majority of the pandemic-related employment barriers in China have been removed. However, the basic factors for lowering China’s youth unemployment rate are not improving.

Furthermore, research has shown that youth unemployment lowers lifetime earnings because young people miss out on key opportunities to gain skills.

The substantial gap between the “reservation wage” rate that fresh graduates are willing to take and the income that employers are willing to offer is one key factor. This disparity illustrates the extent to which the expense of living has outpaced wage growth.

Unemployed graduates have begun to empathise with Kong Yiji, who wears the long gown of the educated elite and clings to his image as an intellectual who works with his thoughts rather than his hands in the novel.

An online post headlined “Academic qualifications are not only a stepping stone, but also a pedestal I can’t step off, and the robe Kong Yiji can’t take off” in February ignited a heated debate about the character’s and China’s educated youth’s challenges.

It’s reasonable that some people are letting off steam in harmless ways, such as humorously comparing themselves to Kong Yiji.

Originally published at https://edtimes.in on June 6, 2023.

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