Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Ban Hammer

China's young college grads toil in 'ant tribes'

7 posts in this topic

Recommended Posts

Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
Timeline

TANGJIALING, China – Liu Jun sleeps in a room so small, he shares a bed with two other men. It's all the scrawny computer engineering graduate can afford in a city so expensive that the average white-collar professional can't afford to buy a home.

A dim fluorescent bulb hangs from the ceiling of the 180-square-foot (17-square-meter) room on the fringes of Beijing. The floor is littered with cigarette butts, dirty laundry and half-eaten paper bowls of spicy instant noodles.

"This is what I get for living with two guys," the 24-year-old Liu says, hunched near a pile of used computer parts. He's a chain-smoker who speaks machine-gun rapid-fire fast. "It's not just the mess and lack of privacy, but it's also embarrassing to bring girls home."

The dreams of many young educated Chinese are running up against the realities of China's rapid economic ascent. Rising living costs and low salaries — the result of a surfeit of university graduates — are dashing high expectations.

"I didn't want to be stuck in a small town forever, you know, like the frog in the well," says Liu, who comes from a coal city in the often frozen far north. "I dreamed of achieving success on my own terms in the big city."

One day he may. For now, Liu has joined the "ant tribe" — the millions of young Chinese so known for crowding together in slums in China's largest cities.

His home lies about an hour north of downtown Beijing, down a tree-lined path where a rusty sign welcomes newcomers. Once a small village of farmers and laborers, Tangjialing emerged as a cut-rate bedroom community in 2003 after the opening of massive software parks nearby, including the headquarters of computer-maker Lenovo Group and the widely used Internet search engine Baidu.com.

Now four- to six-story cement buildings in pastel hues dot the village. Most rooms contain little more than a wardrobe, a bed and a nightstand. There's no air conditioning in weather that can reach above 100 degrees (38 degrees Celsuis). Rent is $45 to $100 a month. Those willing to pay $15 more get a bathroom. Others use the public bath.

___

The term "ant tribe" was coined by Lian Si, a professor who wrote a book with that title about the post-1980 generation.

"Unlike slums in South America or Southeast Asia, these villages are populated with educated young people as opposed to laborers or street peddlers," says Lian, who teaches at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

The Chinese born after 1980 are among the most privileged generation in China's long history. Living after the communist government gave up the radical politics that tossed their parents and grandparents between chaos and penury, they have known only ever-rising levels of prosperity.

In their lifetimes, gleaming new office towers have remade China's cities. Hundreds of millions have been lifted from poverty. Travel abroad, private cars and apartments and a university education — all once the preserve of the elite — are increasingly common.

Vibrant megacities such as Beijing and Shanghai are the epitome of this good life. So the ant generation comes, bringing its aspirations.

But their very abundance keeps entry-level salaries low, while housing and other costs rise. Real estate prices have doubled in just three years in major cities, outpacing a 40 percent increase in urban wages from 2005 to 2009.

"This is the biggest struggle for China's young generation today," says Liu Neng, a sociology professor at Beijing University. "People in their 40s and 50s, now leaders in society, have already experienced hardships, but it's the younger generation's turn to face challenges before they become part of the country's elite."

___

When it rains or snows in Tangjialing, the dirt-covered streets become slurries of mud. On work days, legs and purses spill out the doors and windows of crammed buses.

"Do you still have seats left?" a skinny bespectacled man asks the driver of a minivan shuttle to a nearby office park. The driver says "yes" and pops open the back. The man gets in, taking a place on the floor sandwiched among four others.

To save her $300 a month salary as a data entry clerk, Shang Meirong showers only once a week in the winter and three times a week in the summer in Tangjialing's communal bathhouse, which costs 70 cents per use.

"I don't sweat that much in the winter and it's not cheap, so we shower when we need to," says Shang, a petite 22-year-old from Cangzhou, a city two hours outside Beijing.

The competition for jobs is fierce. Nearly 70 percent of high school graduates are expected to enroll in university this year, according to state media, compared with 20 percent in the 1980s. There are more college graduates than readily available jobs — a once unthinkable situation.

"Trying to find a job that pays enough to survive is much harder than I imagined," says Ren Yanguang, who makes $150 a month as an intern at a local software company in Beijing, where the average income is four times that. "It's frustrating because if I don't find a job soon, then I'll have no choice but to leave."

Most Tangjialing dwellers, Lian says, come from farms and small cities and don't want to return, fearing the boredom or being labeled failures.

"It sure sounds good if you're a parent and you tell the whole village your son is working in the capital," Lian says. "And it's a huge deterrent because they want their family to be proud."

Ning Guochao and his colleague Ma Bing, both construction site managers, joke about how small their new homes are at Tangjialing.

"My kitchen back home is three times the size of this room," Ma says, looking at Ning's apartment, a bare concrete room with a wardrobe and bed that nearly take up the whole space.

"Don't be silly, we all have kitchens this size back home," Ning replies. "But this is Beijing, not some rural village."

"Sure, we tell our relatives we live in Beijing, but look at this," Ma says. "It's a dump and we're barely touching the city, like we're almost in Hebei," referring to the neighboring province.

___

For Liu, the computer engineer, coming to the capital city was a chance to live China's version of the American dream. In his final year at Northeast Petroleum University, he rebuffed his parents' efforts to get him a cushy job at a state-owned company back home in Jixi city. "I came to Beijing because I wanted freedom from them, too," Liu says.

He wound up in Tangjialing late last year, about eight months after moving to Beijing. The village is near the software park where he landed a job, and he recruited two college classmates as roommates.

For about $90 a month, they got one of the better rooms, furnished with a queen-sized bed, two desks and a small wardrobe. It has a bathroom and, unlike the cheaper apartments, a small window that lets in slivers of light. They have attached a lounge-chair-like folding bed to the mattress in case someone rolls over or wants to spread out.

"When I first got here, Tangjialing felt claustrophobic with people living in such close quarters, but I got used to it and it quickly became home," Liu says.

On the evenings he and his roommates aren't clocking overtime, they grab dinner together — often instant noodles but sometimes stir-fried shredded pork and vegetable dishes bought nearby.

Entertainment is mostly chatting online with friends or playing computer games. Without much money, Liu confesses on his blog, life in the big city can be quite dull at times.

After taking a new job selling computer hardware in April, Liu's $30 share of the rent allows him to set aside much of his $400 salary for a nest egg that he hopes will help him start his own software company one day.

"I always ask myself if it's worth it," he says. "When I was in school, this isn't how I wanted life to be, but I chose this path so I can't look back."

link

Edited by charles!

* ~ * Charles * ~ *
 

I carry a gun because a cop is too heavy.

 

USE THE REPORT BUTTON INSTEAD OF MESSAGING A MODERATOR!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Filed: Country: United Kingdom
Timeline

TANGJIALING, China – Liu Jun sleeps in a room so small, he shares a bed with two other men. It's all the scrawny computer engineering graduate can afford in a city so expensive that the average white-collar professional can't afford to buy a home.

Welcome to New York City.


biden_pinhead.jpgspace.gifrolling-stones-american-flag-tongue.jpgspace.gifinside-geico.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Filed: Lift. Cond. (apr) Country: Egypt
Timeline

Welcome to New York City.

:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


Don't just open your mouth and prove yourself a fool....put it in writing.

It gets harder the more you know. Because the more you find out, the uglier everything seems.

kodasmall3.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Filed: Other Country: Canada
Timeline

Welcome to New York City.

Not quite, the Chinese still have bigger rooms than the average Manhattan apartment.:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:


IR5

2007-07-27 – Case complete at NVC waiting on the world or at least MTL.

2007-12-19 - INTERVIEW AT MTL, SPLIT DECISION.

2007-12-24-Mom's I-551 arrives, Pop's still in purgatory (AP)

2008-03-11-AP all done, Pop is approved!!!!

tumblr_lme0c1CoS21qe0eclo1_r6_500.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Vietnam
Timeline
:thumbs: thumbs up to that guy...he has his priorities in order.. 400 / month income and sharing a hole in the wall for 30 bucks.. he is looking at the big picture long term...

"Every one of us bears within himself the possibilty of all passions, all destinies of life in all its forms. Nothing human is foreign to us" - Edward G. Robinson.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
- Back to Top -


Important Disclaimer: Please read carefully the Visajourney.com Terms of Service. If you do not agree to the Terms of Service you should not access or view any page (including this page) on VisaJourney.com. Answers and comments provided on Visajourney.com Forums are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Visajourney.com does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. VisaJourney.com does not condone immigration fraud in any way, shape or manner. VisaJourney.com recommends that if any member or user knows directly of someone involved in fraudulent or illegal activity, that they report such activity directly to the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement. You can contact ICE via email at Immigration.Reply@dhs.gov or you can telephone ICE at 1-866-347-2423. All reported threads/posts containing reference to immigration fraud or illegal activities will be removed from this board. If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by contacting us here with a url link to that content. Thank you.
×
×
  • Create New...