With rising prosperity in China's big cities, the living conditions and attitudes of young Chinese have changed substantially. As young people must still endure intense competition to gain access to higher education in China, many children of the more affluent middle class are attracted by the relative freedom foreign education systems offer. At the same time, even those who remain in China for higher education, increasingly question social norms. Traditional parental demands of their children are strongly challenged by Generation Y. Self-confident feminists and sexual minorities (LGBT) are increasingly calling for greater openness and are not afraid to initiate lawsuits against the Chinese state to demand equal rights. Parallel to these developments, a nationalist youth culture, which smartly uses social media as a mouthpiece for Chinese great power dreams, has developed. Simultaneously, state-run media warn of “harmful Western influences,” while the political leadership pressures social actors who do not adhere to the official line by further restricting existing social freedoms.
Mercator Institute for Chinese Studies (MERICS)
Simon Lang researches social conflicts and protests, education policy, lifestyle, consumption and gender in China. Before joining MERICS, he investigated identity formation and gender in Chongqing in LGBT non-governmental organizations.
During his studies of social sciences at the University of Amsterdam, he researched NGOs in Taiwan and was a guest lecturer for Global History at the National Central University in Taiwan. Prior to studying in Amsterdam, Lang completed a Bachelor's degree in Chinese Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin and studied Chinese language at Chongqing University in China.