Generation X in China

How do the generations correlate between cultures? This Frontline episode explores the young generation in China over a period of four years.

My brother, Robert, has generously offered to fly me to China in April to spend a week there with him seeing the country. That got me to thinking about the generations in China, and I found this interesting segment from Frontline about the Chinese equivalent of Generation X. Filmed over four years time, the episode aired in June 2008.

A notable quote from the start of the segment:

“The spirtual side of China is changing from a a very ideal world, from the time of Maoism, serve people and work for others, to an extreme: get rich, as fast as you can, and have a good life”

Chinese generations and turnings don’t line up exactly with US cycles, but the generation profiled in the segment seems very similar to our Generation X in the United States.

Another quote from a young woman who is supporting her family (meaning her parents and sibilings):

I don’t dare have any ideas or ideals


I wonder how other parents could support their kids education, but not mine. [starts crying]. Sorry. Perhaps I shouldn’t have said that. It sounds like I am blaming my parents for not living up to their responsibilties. But that is past.

Very much like the US Generation X, they are forced to depend on themselves to get by, but have the added pressure of having to support their extended family as well.

A young street performing rapper says:

I grew up with my grandpa until I was 14. I did not get along with my Dad. My father, my Mother, both useless.

A man who experience the crackdown on the rebellion in the 80’s firsthand said:

After the June 4th incident they started arresting people. I knew some of them personally. Politically it affected my generation tremendously. After the June 4th incident, I decided to move out of the city. There was only one reason. I decided that politics was quite a risky and scary business. It would be better to distance myself from it


One thought on “Generation X in China”

  1. Interesting. I have often found lately that much of the fiction that I can still stand to read comes out of China (in translation). I am not sure why this is, but perhaps it is because of all the hardship that the people there endure that makes them more pragmatic (X) and more in touch with the essential human essence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.