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  1. #1
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010

    [EN] Sang culture

    Some young people are embracing an ironic, defeatist attitude on social media, faced with the relentless pressure to succeed, prompting state media to tell them to buck up

    05 September, 2017

    Why China’s gloomy millennials have got the authorities worried.

    Chinese millennials with a dim view of their career and marriage prospects can wallow in despair with a range of teas such as “achieved-absolutely-nothing black tea”, and “my-ex’s-life-is-better-than-mine fruit tea”.

    While the drink names at the Sung chain of tea stalls are tongue-in-cheek, the sentiment they reflect is serious – a significant number of young Chinese with high expectations have become discouraged and embrace an attitude known on social media as “sang”, after a Chinese character associated with the word “funeral” that describes being dispirited.

    “Sang” culture, which revels in often ironic defeatism, is fuelled by internet celebrities, through music and the popularity of certain mobile games and TV shows, as well as sad faced emojis and pessimistic slogans.

    It is a reaction to cutthroat competition for good jobs in an economy that is not as robust as it was a few years ago and when home ownership – long seen as a near requirement for marriage in China – is increasingly unattainable in major cities as flat prices have soared.

    “I wanted to fight for socialism today, but the weather is so freaking cold that I’m only able to lay on the bed to play on my mobile phone,” 27 year-old Zhao Zengliang, a “sang” internet personality, wrote in one post. “It would be great if I could just wake up to retirement tomorrow,” she said in another.

    Such ironic humour is lost on China’s ruling Communist Party.

    Sung Tea was called out in August for peddling “mental opium” by the Communist Party’s official the People’s Daily, which described sang culture in an editorial as “an extreme, pessimistic and hopeless attitude that’s worth our concern and discussion”.

    “Stand up, and be brave. Refuse to drink ‘sung tea’, choose to walk the right path and live the fighting spirit of our era,” it said.

    China’s State Council Information Office did not reply to a request for comment for this story.

    While “sang” can be a pose or affectation, despondency among a segment of educated young people is a genuine concern for President Xi Jinping and his government, which prizes stability.

    The intensifying censorship clampdown on media and cyberspace in the run-up to autumn’s Communist Party congress, held once every five years, extends even to negativity, with regulations issued in early June calling for “positive energy” in online audiovisual content.

    Later that month, some young netizens were frustrated when Bojack Horseman, an animated American TV series about a half-man/half-horse former sitcom star, and popular among the “sang” generation for his self-loathing and cynicism, was pulled from Chinese streaming site iQiyi.

    “Screw positive energy,” Vincent, a 27-year old Weibo user, commented under a post announcing the news.

    A spokesperson at iQiyi said the decision to remove Bojack Horseman was due to “internal process issues”, but declined to give further details.

    Social media and online gaming giant Tencent Holdings has even gone on the counter-attack against “sang” culture. It has launched an advertising campaign around the Chinese word “ran” – which literally means burning and conveys a sense of optimism – with slogans such as “every adventure is a chance to be reborn”.

    Undermining “sang” may take some doing.

    “Sang” is also a rebellion against the striving of contemporary urban China, no matter the cost or hopes of achieving a goal. Tied to that is intense social and family pressure to succeed, which typically comes with the expectation that as members of the one-child generation people will support ageing parents and grandparents.

    Zhao’s online posts, often tinged with dark humour, have attracted almost 50,000 fans on microblogging site Weibo. Zhao turned the subject into a book last year: A Life Where You Can’t Strive for Success All The Time.

    While China’s roughly 380 million millennials – or those aged about 18 to 35 – have opportunities that earlier generations would have found unimaginable, they also have expectations that are becoming harder to meet.

    The average starting salary for college graduates dropped by 16 per cent this year to 4,014 yuan (US$608) per month amid intensifying competition for jobs as a record eight million graduate from Chinese universities, nearly 10 times the number in 1997.

    Even among elite “sea turtles” – those who return after studying overseas, often at great expense – nearly half of 2017 graduates earned less than 6,000 yuan per month, a survey by the recruitment firm found, with 70 per cent of respondents saying their pay was far below expectations.

    Homeownership is a nearly universal aspiration in China, but it is increasingly difficult to get on the property ladder in big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

    An average two-bedroom home in Beijing’s resale market costs about 6 million yuan after prices surged 36.7 per cent in 2016, according to, China’s biggest real estate website. That is about 70 times the average per capita disposable income in the city. The ratio is less than 25 times for New York City.

    Median per person rent in Beijing, where most of the estimated 8 million renters are millennials, according to, has risen 33 per cent in the past five years to 2,748 yuan a month in June, equivalent to 58 per cent of median income in the city, a survey by E-House China R&D Institute found. The costs often mean that young Chinese workers have to live on the edges of cities, with long, stressful journeys to work.

    Financial pressures also contribute to young Chinese waiting longer to get married.

    In Nanjing, a major eastern city, the median age for first marriages rose to 31.6 last year, from 29.9 in 2012, official data showed.

    “Sang” contrasts with the optimism of those who entered adulthood during the years of China’s double-digit economic growth in previous decades. That generation was motivated by career prospects and life quality expectations that their parents and grandparents, who had learned to “eat bitter” during tougher times, could only dream of.

    “Our media and society have shoved too many success stories down our throat,” said Zhao.

    “‘Sang’ is a quiet protest against society’s relentless push for achieving the traditional notion of success. It is about admitting that you just can’t make it,” she said.

    It is also a symptom of the lack of channels for frustrated young adults to vent frustration, a survey of 200 Chinese university students by researchers at state think tank Chinese Academy of Social Sciences found in June.

    “The internet itself is a channel for them to release pressure, but due to censorship it’s impossible to do so by openly venting,” Xiao Ziyang, an academy researcher, said. “It’s necessary for the government to exercise public opinion control to prevent social problems.”

    Sung Tea founder Xiang Huanzhong, 29, said he expected pressure on young Chinese adults only to grow, citing the ageing of the population as a particular burden for the young.

    Xiang has capitalised on the trend with products named after popular “sang” phrases. The chain has single locations in 12 cities after opening its first permanent tea stall in July in Beijing, where a bestselling “sitting-around-and-waiting-to-die” matcha milk tea costs 18 yuan.

    Xiang said he chose tame names for his products so as not to attract censure from the authorities, leaning towards the self-deprecating.

    He took issue with the People’s Daily’s critical editorial.

    “It didn’t try to seriously understand at all,” he said.

    Wang Hanqi, 21, a student at Nanjing Audit University, sought out Sung Tea after hearing about it on social media.

    “I’m a bit disappointed that the names for the tea are not ’sang’ enough,” he said outside the Beijing stall.

  2. #2
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010

    Os jovens estão prontos para fazer um mundo melhor?

    Luiz Felipe Pondé

    Uma pergunta que ouço com frequência é: "Você acha que os jovens estão prontos para fazer um mundo melhor?". Ou "um Brasil melhor?" Detesto quando me perguntam isso.

    Convivo diariamente com jovens há 20 anos. Tenho discutido isso com eles há algum tempo desde que passei a sentir esse estranhamento quando muita gente insiste em me fazer essa pergunta, na maioria da vezes, usando daquele tom de "assunto sério" cheio de suposta preocupação com "um mundo melhor".

    Já disse antes, e reitero, que não confio em quem diz querer construir um mundo melhor, mas aqui a coisa vai mais longe.

    Vou responder para você diretamente se os jovens estão prontos para fazer um mundo melhor. E, adianto que a suspeita de que minha "amostra" é viciada é uma suspeita, ela sim, viciada. O universo de jovens com quem converso hoje vai além da sala de aula imediata, devido às redes sociais, principalmente. Várias classes sociais. E mais: não precisa ser um gênio para saber o que ocupa as mentes dos mais jovens nesse mundo sem Deus em que vivemos.

    Não, os jovens não estão preparados para fazer um mundo melhor. Nenhum jovem nunca esteve. Essa ideia é um fetiche vagabundo de alguns poucos jovens dos anos 1960 e adjacências. Ou de artistas que fazem desse fetiche seu mercado de consumo.

    Os jovens estão com medo, e com razão. Querem estágios, mas, cada vez mais as empresas querem que eles trabalhem de graça ou, as mais "descoladas", que eles (quase) paguem para estagiar nelas. A ideia é que eles estariam ganhando experiência e a chance, divina, de conviver com profissionais superbacanas.

    Os jovens estão com medo, e com razão. Olham para o mercado de trabalho e sabem o que os espera, à medida que o capitalismo se faz chinês. Salários miseráveis, competição avassaladora (esse papo de economia colaborativa é para gente bacana feita de silício), incerteza como substancia essencial do futuro. Hoje você tem emprego, amanhã quem sabe. Os horários são flexíveis. Que legal! Trabalhe o tempo todo, 24/7 (24 horas por dia), via WhatsApp, Facebook, o diabo a quatro.

    Os jovens estão com medo, e com razão. Não se pode confiar em vínculos afetivos duradouros. O egoísmo é a grande revolução moral moderna. Quase todo mundo é instrumental (termo chique para interesseiro). As pessoas não confiam uma nas outras porque estão mais "críticas" (isto é, mais chatas). Todo mundo quer serviços e direitos. Generosidade é um termo desconhecido no mundo em que os jovens habitam.

    O elemento natural desse mundo é a demanda, a exigência, o ressentimento e a raiva. Além, claro, da intolerância para qualquer coisa fora da "cartilha do bem" que enfiam goela abaixo deles nas escolas que são mais igrejas do que qualquer outra coisa.

    Os jovens estão com medo, e com razão. Olham para os mais velhos e veem um bando de gente imatura fingindo que tem 25 anos mentais. O culto do retardamento mental como forma de autonomia. Professores que mais parecem mendigos em busca de autoestima.

    E quem adora atormentar esses coitados, cobrando deles o que é impossível entregar?

    Gente chata que acha que fracassou na vida e, por isso, vive sonhando com um mundo melhor, em que ele ou ela pudesse ter a felicidade que não conseguiu ter na sua vida que já passou em alguma medida.

    Falam coisas como "ensinar aos jovens amar e respeitar a todos", como se todo mundo de fato "merecesse" ser amado no mundo.

    O ódio, o desencanto, a desesperança têm seu lugar no panteão de reações possíveis na vida. E você não é, necessariamente, um fracassado porque se ressente de ter sido derrotado pela máquina do mundo. A máquina do mundo tritura esperanças, projetos e corpos a cada dia mais e de modo mais veloz.

    Essa velocidade é, exatamente, o que os jovens sentem na pele. Correm como podem atrás de uma promessa que jamais acontecerá: a realização da tal vida equilibrada entre "valores" que transcendem o mundo material e as escandalosas provas evidentes de que serão julgados pelos critérios mais cruéis que regem qualquer alma de um banqueiro.

  3. #3
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010

    Chinese tea brand makes sadness the flavour of the month

    “‘Sang’ is a quiet protest against society’s relentless push for achieving the traditional notion of success”

    06 September 2017

    Chinese tea stall chain Sung is channelling millennial despondency around the dim prospects in both marriage and careers, with suitably bleak product titles – “achieved-absolutely-nothing black tea” – as the brand channels “Sang” culture.

    According to a report from Reuters, Sung tea stalls’ use of an ironically defeatist attitude, Sang – named after the Chinese character associated with funerals – reflects the growing visibility on both the internet and TV of millennial sadness.

    But equally, it revolves around some very real issues buffeting millennials in 21st century China. Thanks to rising prices in major cities, owning a house - still crucial to one’s marriage prospects - is increasingly difficult.

    As is finding a decent job, now harder as China’s previously stratospheric growth has slowed, and wages drop; in 2017 the average graduate salary has dropped 16% year-on-year.

    However, such pessimism is not to the taste of the ruling Communist Party.

    Official organ of the party, People’s Daily, scorned sand culture as “mental opium,” propagating an “extreme, pessimistic and hopeless attitude”. Further into the editorial, the paper urged readers to “refuse to drink ‘Sung tea’, choose to walk the right path, and live the fighting spirit of our era.”

    The trend arises at a bad time to be sad in China. As the Communist Party congress – held every five years – fast approaches, the government is issuing calls for positivity and clamping down on negativity. In late June, Bojack Horseman, popular among the sang generation, was withdrawn from the iQiyi streaming site.

    Writer Zhao Zengliang told Reuters that Sang was more than a simple fad. “‘Sang’ is a quiet protest against society’s relentless push for achieving the traditional notion of success”, she said. “It is about admitting that you just can’t make it”.

  4. #4
    WHT-BR Top Member
    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010

    Chinese Millennials: New Minds In An Old World

    Ten years of iPhones and online romance portals cannot sweep away thousands of years of Confucian culture. Surveys in China still show a preference for guardianship discourse with elites responsible for the good of the whole society.

    Tom Doctoroff and Li Yu Hong
    Jul 31, 2015

    Marketers’ focus on the “millennial” generation – that is, individuals born in the last two decades of the 20th century – has become an obsessive fixation, according to a recent The New York Times report.

    How true.

    Yes, millennials are more "digitally native" than older cohorts. And due to their dependence on technology, they’re “probably just a leading indicator of where life is headed for everyone." Furthermore, the anxiety triggered by stagnant incomes and declining social mobility has resulted a global “live for now” ( Pepsi ’s new tagline) ethos rather than a wholesale embrace of anti-conformist, anti-corporate values.

    This myth of generational overthrow has also taken root in China -- albeit writ large. The entire nation is convinced that the post-90s generation-- 15- to 25-year-olds born after the 1989 Tiananmen “incident,” an era of seismic social and economic shift -- is almost unrecognizably foreign.

    True, the pace of change is swift in China. So swift, in fact, the post-90s generation is often contrasted to the post-80s generation.

    Generational Evolution

    The latter, at least those living in first-tier cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, matured during an era of naïve optimism. They entered the system only a few years after Deng Xiaoping proclaimed, “To get rich is glorious!” and turbo-charged the reform agenda.

    Twenty years ago, China’s engagement with the world had barely begun. The Internet was accessible to only the privileged few. Parents still espoused protective values reinforced by their experiences during the instability of two man-made disasters -- the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Back then, a diploma from even second-rate universities was a golden ticket.

    Post-90s types are both more worldly and pessimistic. Until now, their lives have been comfortable. Video games, international travel, large bedrooms and Lays potato chips are taken for granted.

    However, skies have darkened. Adulthood looms. Post-90s confront a reality of pervasive corruption, slowing growth rates, and existential fears born of environmental degradation that raise fundamental questions about the sustainability of China’s growth paradigm. Competition for good jobs is more intense than ever. Seven million graduates enter the job market each year with most unprepared for the global knowledge economy.

    Of course, it's not all gloom and doom. The digital revolution has broadened horizons. According to the National Business Daily, more than 10,000 enterprises are founded every day and the majority are Internet companies -- a burst of creative entrepreneurialism and democratized market opportunity ripe for the picking. Social networks -- in the first quarter of 2015, WeChat, TenCent’s largest community portal, had more than 480 million active users on the Mainland – have created China’s most branché generation. E-commerce has liberated commercial choice, particularly in lower-tier cities where bricks and mortar stores continue to underwhelm, to an extent unimaginable a few years ago. Alibaba ’s 24-hour Singles Day promotion, targeted toward lovelorn youth, generated more than $10 billion in revenue.

    These forces, both positive and negative, have resulted in incontestable attitudinal changes.

    The post-80s generation tended to be more naïve and more ambitious. Optimistic about getting ahead, they were prone to blue-sky professional fantasy. American Dreams in China was a popular 2013 film that captured bygone youthful aspirations. It told the story of three friends who ventured to the United States to launch a successful English language school that eventually got listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

    Post-90s realities have yielded a more grounded generation of doers. They are focused on the present, living in the moment. They crave experience over master-of-the-universe achievement. They bristle against constricted definitions of success. According to a J. Walter Thompson study on BRIC millennials, 27% of Chinese aged 15-25 now agree that an investment in a gap year represents good life experience. More broadly, they search for meaning through travel, crave global connections and a wider array of role models – including Ma Jiajia, an online sex shop operator, one of many idols who march to the beat of their own drummers. A favorite movie: Tiny Times, a light-hearted confection that celebrates, well, nothing in particular.

    Cultural Constants

    Still, generational factors can be overstated. Ten years of iPhones and online romance portals cannot sweep away thousands of years of Confucian culture. Surveys in China still show a preference for guardianship discourse with elites responsible for the good of the whole society.

    Expressions of modern Chinese culture are affected by both constants and variables. The nation is more globally connected, affluent and digitalized. But many things haven’t changed. The structure of Chinese society – the relationship between individual and society – remains intact.

    Yes, post-90s types sport tattoos and take vacations in Paris or New Zealand. But Western-style individualism – that is, the encouragement of society to define oneself independent of society -- has not taken root. Education is rote, rooted in mastery of received wisdom, not creative self-expression. Getting rich is still “glorious,” but full-throttled capitalism has never been embraced. Challenge to convention remains risky. (There are no Chinese Steve Jobs on the horizon. Notable commercial successes, from Xioami mobile phones to Alibaba’s e-commerce portal, are twists on timeless Chinese corporate models that prize broad scale and low price.) Family structure remains traditional, with gay marriage an unthinkable proposition. Parental relationships, while more casual than years ago, are rooted in filial piety. Sons do not sass fathers. And commercial relationships are lubricated by personal relationships – or “face,” the fuel of forward advancement. Institutions that ensure an equal playing field do not exist. The tall, rich and handsome, or gaofushuai, exists on a higher, and non-intersecting, plane than dime-a-dozen diaosi -- that is, the common guy or, directly translated, the stray dangling hair.

    The Post 90s Master Tension

    So China’s new generation remains conflicted. On one hand, individuals want to leave their mark – today – by pursuing their passions. On the other, they are held back by a regimented society. They are new minds in an old world. The Post 90s generation seeks brands that resolve the tensions between a quintessentially Chinese projection of status or power and the youthful celebration of now.

    Sensation that does not move the individual forward, even in modest ways, still evaporates. In China, winning propositions have been, and always will be, a means to an end. Brands that enable young people to skillfully navigate youthful hearts command loyalty. Marketers who resolve the tension between ego affirmation and conformity deepen the role their brands play in life.

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