there Two classes of customers at the tavern in Low Town. Scholars sit inside, sipping wine in the long robes that mark their intellectual stature. Workers, in short robes, drink cheaper wine outside. Only one customer is wearing a long robe and standing outside: Kong Yijie, a miserable scholar-turned-beggar. Other customers mock him for being poor, yet he sticks to his cultured image. They make fun of the way he reads classical poetry and try to teach children how to write obscure Chinese characters. Far from the bar, Kong steals and is beaten as punishment. However, he still crawls into the pub – which leads to even more derision. When he disappears, he is presumed dead.
The story of Kong Yiji was written in 1918 by Lu Xun, a famous Chinese satirist (pictured above). But it is cited today by Chinese youth, who are associated with Kong. And 11.6 million of them are expected to graduate from university this year. Many will not be able to find work. The unemployment rate for people aged 16-24 in the cities is close to 20%. the walk The index, a measure of labor market competition produced by Renmin University in Beijing, shows a large gap between the number of university graduates and the number of jobs available (see chart). The phrase “out of school means unemployed” is common on the Internet nowadays, as are memes about Kong Yijie.
This upset the authorities, who believed that today’s youth should learn a different lesson from Lu Xun’s story. Kong Yijie could improve a lot through hard work, but he was too pretentious to give up his intellectual base, says a comment on the website of CCTVChinese state television. The implication is that Kong is to blame for his suffering—as is the youth of today, whose grades, like Kong’s robe, have made them too arrogant and lazy to do low-skilled jobs.
The government and its supporters glorify the youth they see as anti-Kung. The Communist Youth League recently highlighted a young woman from Jiangsu Province named Wei Qiao. Chinese leader Xi Jinping praised Wei, for moving to the countryside and becoming a “new farmer.” The League said that young men should learn to “roll up their pants and go into the fields”. Similarly, state media described a profile of a young college graduate, referred to as Ms. Huang, who makes a living collecting garbage for recycling in Henan Province. In the video, Huang says that office jobs are boring. “We should not be restricted by our educational credentials.”
Chinese netizens laughed at these reports. “Why don’t we all stop going to school, do our part in the factories, and save ourselves 15 years of toil?” a Weibo user asked. “My parents spent their lives working in factories and saving money to give me the robe of this world. How can I take it off?” another asked. A young vlogger mocked the way the country expects endless positivity from young people. In a parody music video for “sunny Kong Yijie”, he sings, “I went to school to help China get up, not to be a delivery guy.” It was viewed 3 million times before it was censored.
On a recent forum, novelist Yu Hua was asked for his views on all of this. The problem is not the researcher’s attire, but the lack of jobs, Yu said, adding that he knows of a publisher who has received more than 6,000 applications for six job vacancies. He said that the only solution is to pursue economic growth in order to create more job opportunities. China gross domestic product It grew faster than expected in the first quarter. But the weak graduate job market — and the memoirs about Kong Yijie — is likely to persist for some time. ■
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