Chinese youth fumes over suspension of unemployment data

Chinese youth, China, Chinese students

Joblessness in China has reached an embarrassing level, forcing the Chinese government to conceal the unemployment data from the public view. Experts in China feared the unemployment rate has reached close to 50 percent in 2023.1Even the Beijing government had to admit that the urban unemployment rate touched a record 21.3 percent in mid-2023.

However, it was followed by the suspension of measurement of employment data, which led to angry reactions from the Chinese youth. Unemployment has become a major crisis in China as joblessness is taking its toll on the youth and economy.

One in five in China is unable to find jobs, and at least 33 of 96 million urban youth are sitting idle at present. While the government data showed a joblessness rate of over 20 percent, experts believed the ground situation was much worse. Universities in China have been found to be involved in fudging the employment data.

Zhang Dandan, professor of economics at Peking University, said the actual unemployment could be as high as 46.5 percent as the employment measuring methods in China exclude those who are “not inemployment, education or training”.

Zhang’s views that were published in the renowned Chinese financial magazine Caixin were censored later. A Chinese youngster named Zhu Xunyang said “I tried many times and just couldn’t find one I wanted. So I kind of wanted to just give up.” China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) suspended the measurement of employment without giving logical reasons.

“The economy and society are constantly developing and changing. Statistical work needs continuous improvement”, Fu Linghui, spokesperson of the NBS. Chinese youth began expressing strong views on social media soon after the gove rnment stopped publishing employment data. One called the NBS “capricious” and demanded “The public has the right to know the truth.” Cassie Sun, who has been unemployed for two years, said “They are lying every day.”

Young Chinese people have responded with strong cynicism. “Covering your mouth and closing your eyes, can that really solve problems?” said one on the social media platform Weibo. Andy Chen, a Beijing-based senior analyst, said the move would do more damage than good. “The move could backfire, because it only draws more attention to the problem,” he said. The decision to suspend the unemployment data release grabbed 160 million views on Weibo within hours.

Economists assert that publishing the deteriorated job data can lead to negative sentiments in China. “Authorities clearly recognize this is a confidence crisis and are trying to also ensure the messaging is not overly bearish,” said Louise Loo, an economist at Oxford Economics. Dan Wang, the chief economist at Hang Seng Bank China, said the unemployed youth accounts for 1.4 percent of the potential workforce in China’s urban areas. “Their expression of discontent of the current situation may trigger a wider loss of confidence in the economy,” she warned

The communist government in Beijing appears afraid of social instability if unemployment continues to rise. A similar situation that had occurred during the Covid-led pandemic led to the demand for the resignation of Xi Jinping. Even the youth wing of the communist party expressed concerns and warned of “profound consequences.” Communist Party Youth League said “No matter how difficult the job market is, we mustn’t dilute the truth.”

Despite the high possibility of retaliation from the authorities, students in China held protests on several occasions in the recent past. It became quite rampant during the harsh lockdowns that had disrupted overall life in China.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024