—The future is bright for the millions who were born in China after the horrors of Tiananmen Square. Their nation is on the march toward more wealth and power, and most don’t face hunger and misery like their parents and grandparents. So why are so many urban young people in the world’s most populous country so stressed out?
The answer lies in a single word: Pressure.
The twenty-somethings who fill apartments in China’s insta-megacities are expected to rise – marry an appropriate spouse, get good jobs, buy apartments and cars, and have children. Nagging relatives pile on to monitor a young person’s progress through these mandated stages of youth, and there’s pressure from within, too. But not all Chinese can achieve their “Chinese Dream,” whether it’s to follow the set path or rebel and live in the moment.
“The chasm between the expectations of Chinese young people – their dreams of the lives they’d like to lead – and their financial reality is often bigger, broader and more harrowing than any other such gap in the world,” writes Zak Dychtwald, a millennial American from Northern California. He paints a remarkably revealing portrait of China’s youngest generations in his fascinating new book, Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World.
The captivating and perceptive “Young China” focuses on young adults in their 20s who were “born into a country brimming with ambition and aspiration.” They’re firmly ensconced in the world’s middle class and “the first modern generations less preoccupied with needs and more involved with wants, in particular ‘Who do we want to be?'”
The rush of change in China is stunning. Just a quarter century ago, only about 30 million refrigerators could be found in a nation of 1.1 billion, and the average annual income was around $375. Then came an industrial revolution, a technological revolution, a sexual revolution and, yes, a capitalistic revolution. “Poverty is not…