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Date Posted: 10:34 04/07/2004

Shanghai's idle youth expands

Expert accuses Shanghai kids of having 'unrealistic expectations'

There is a growing number of people in Shanghai who don't seem to actually do anything. Mostly single children in their late 'teens and twenties, they don't know how to cook or wash their own clothes, and they don't have the slightest inclination to find a job. They spend their whole days in bed, and emerge in the evenings to play cards or chat online with their layabout mates. Some of the more ambitious ones try to devise madcap business schemes with their pals, using the money their parents have earned during the last two or three decades. If they are female, they spend most of their time looking for sugar daddies from Hong Kong or Taiwan to finance their shopping trips.

A report from Singapore's Lianhe Zaobao has been discussing this new phenomenon. It also suggests that China's graduates cannot cope with life outside the ivory tower of their university, and are quickly giving up their jobs. Apparently, the work ethic is declining in China's richest city. Naturally, most people do not want to work eight or nine hours a day to earn about 800 RMB a month, but there are other reasons for the growth of Shanghai's idle youth.

Sun Qiang, an expert from the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, suggested that the city was generally more developed than others in China, and with a per capita GDP rate of $5,000, the residents have become spoilt. The high streets shimmer with wealth and luxury, and all the locals have become so arrogant that they are unwilling to do any sort of hard graft at all. Work is something that is done by migrants from Jiangxi and Anhui. To be born in Shanghai might be like winning first prize in the lottery of Chinese life, but the 'stamp' of the city also means having entirely unrealistic expectations about one's own personal worth, the expert said.

These conclusions should surprise no one with any passing knowledge of Shanghai, where natives spend half of their spare time revelling in the majesty of China's most opulent metropolis, and the other half insulting, berating and criticizing all the outsiders flooding through the city gates. In the Shanghainese world-view, Beijingers are ignorant oiks, the Henanese are incorrigible crooks and chancers, those from Wenzhou are ruthless and money-grubbing yokels, and the Cantonese are ugly and talentless guttersnipes 'with no culture'. Some of the worst insults are reserved for the migrant workers of Anhui, who supply Shanghai with most of its construction workers, nannies and street-cleaners, but are ridiculed and feared in equal measure as uneducated criminals and gangsters.

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