Youth speak China

I was looking at a group of interesting pictures called “iSpeak China” (here) taken by British photographer Adrian Fisk. He travelled over 12,000 km to find Chinese young people between 16 and 30 years old and asked them to write whatever came to their mind on a piece of paper.

It is surprising that the messages by the young people have indeed addressed some of the biggest problems in China.

Some are criticizing the youth for being restricted to their own interests and being ignorant of social events. Jia Jia, a 25-year-old saleswoman, wrote:”Nowadays many young people do not care about the development of China and the world. They only care about themselves and ignore other people and things around them.” It seems to be part of Chinese philosophy to not caring about “something big”, such as national policies or international relations. But it can be scaring that a country’s youth is losing knowledge and even attention to their country’s future.

Some express the mixed feelings toward the irreversible trend of urbanization. Song Jingping runs a restaurant with her husband in Hubei. She wrote:”When people leave their village to live in the city, it is very hard for them
to return.” It is a simple and real account of the urban-rural difference in China. People have limited opportunities and poor living conditions in most parts of China. Moreover, there is little chance to get out of poverty. They are already behind their peers in terms of education, family background, and scope. Those who come to the city may be lucky enough to find a job, but it’s still hard for them to settle down there due to the high living costs and unfriendly policies (it’s getting better though).

Also we see the huge regional gap in China. Energetic youth from Beijing seems to be hopeful towards their future, as Zeng Yi, a political science student put down in her paper “Communication is essential among different nations. So let’s have a cup of tea and have a talk, let’s become much closer.” Wendy, a Chinese student studying at Canada, calls for “a united China, both united with its self and with the world”. The educated elites think big, and they are entitled to do that because they will be the ones in charge of the country in the near future.

But for the rural poor and people in remote areas, there is little choice for them. Ma Xiaolan, an illiterate farmer in Qinghai province, told the photographer “My husband and I want to become migrant labourers so we can work hard to make
ourselves and our parents happy”. The white paper is like a blank future for her. Sarah Yip, a receptionist at an Investment Bank, wrote:”Do whatever you want in your life because you might die tomorrow”.

Many thanks towards Mr. Adrian Fisk for taking these intriguing pictures.


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