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Graham Perry
Graham Perry
Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer.


The standard narrative on China focuses on the transformation of The Sick Man of Asia of 1949 into the Largest Economy in the World by 2029 or earlier. Additionally, 1bn people lifted out of poverty + for the citizens of China a strong feeling that “They Have Never Had It So Good” a phrase created by UK Prime Minister Macmillan in 1959. Life today in China is immeasurably better than the deprivation, humiliation + degradation of China after the Second World War up to 1949.

But success brings new challenges + new problems and for a country of 1.4bn people, the pressures are ever-present on the shoulders of President Xi Jinping + the Party + Government of China. In an article in today’s FT, James Kynge refers to the trend of “Lying Flat” to describe a tendency of young Chinese to move away from stressful jobs. Kynge also quotes official spokesman, Wu Qian, who said “In this turbulent era, there is no such thing as lying flat and waiting for prosperity. There is only the splendour of struggle + endeavour. Young people, Come On”.

There are stresses in modern China – a sign of the progress that has been achieved but also a warning sign about the future. Costs for the middle class, says Kynge, are increasing – housing, healthcare, education to name just three. Additionally, the hours of work are long + there are reports of parents returning home too late to spend quality time with their children. Additionally, there is the cost of childminders + time frittered away in rush hour traffic.

So, on the one hand, it is right to exalt the rise in figures of economic growth + the surge in investment + the application of Artificial Intelligence but on the other hand, there is a need to pay attention to the quality of life issues. These are problems that the Party, in one sense, is pleased to address because they signify progress + advancement but the day-to-day lives of China’s growing middle class are not taken for granted by Beijing.

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