Time Magazine has a story on China’s Youth Generation this week. It’s written by Simon Elegant , Time’s man in Beijing and a guy with a lot of China experience. The piece is good. It accurately lays out the life of Beijing’s up and coming young people and how they’re not interested in politics because — as my managing director always says — middle class Chinese are living in a golden birdcage. They can have a great life — become rich, travel, buy whatever they want — but they can’t influence the political process. So politics just isn’t part of their lives.
What it doesn’t do is put this in the context of Chinese society as a whole and that can be a problem for people who haven’t been to China to understand it. The lives of people in Elegant’s article are middle class Chinese from a tier one city. They’re not farmers from central or Western China or people from less developed cities. Those people can’t influence the political process either, but they are also not traveling to Hong Kong or outside of China and they are engaging in the rise of consumerism that can be found in China’s major cities. So they really aren’t part of China’s Me Generation.
One question Elegant’s piece does answer though is Kaiser Kou’s piece about why there isn’t any SNS for people over 30. (I wrote about this in my Saturday reading list) The reason is simple. China’s Me Generation is dominating market for online services, (and why Taobao does contests like this) mobile music, extreme sports and nightlife entertainment. People under 30 are using MSN, QQ and Facebook (most of China’s Me Generation is bilingual) to keep contact with their friends and do business — remember Chinese business is based around relationships and that’s what these sites let people maintain. So there isn’t a need of SNS sites for Chinese business they’re already there.