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Tang ping (Chinese 躺平; pinyin tǎng píng) is a social protest movement in China that began in April 2021. It is a rejection of pressures to overwork, refusing the demands of 9-9-6 (working 9am to 9pm, 6 days a week), as some see this as a rat race which brings less value than previously. Those who participate in tang ping choose to "lie down flat”, which means accepting a low-desire, more indifferent attitude towards life.

The Chinese Communist Party has rejected the idea through state-owned media. "The powerful CAC internet regulator ordered online platforms to strictly restrict posts on tang ping and removed a discussion group of nearly 10,000 followers on a Chinese social media site." Selling tang ping-branded merchandise online is forbidden. In May 2021, Chinese state media Xinhua published an editorial asserting that "lying flat" is shameful, Xi JinPing has spoken out against it.

There is an increasing sense that traditional Chinese values, being able to own a home and have children, are now out of reach financially. Many people in their 20s and 30s worry that they will never be able to achieve these things and have the added burden, especially if they are only children without brothers or sisters, of taking care of their elderly parents, a responsibility that makes high property prices even further out of reach.

China is not alone. It has parallels in the West. “It has been compared to the "Great Resignation", a surge of resignations that began in the United States and much of the Western World at roughly the same time.”

The BBC quotes one young man explaining it this way. “I think 2022 will be an upgrade on 2021, but I still don’t want to do anything. I will continue to tang ping, to lie flat. I enjoy this state.” The young man previously “left his home city of Hangzhou for a highly-paid job as an app developer in Beijing several years ago. Like many young Chinese professionals, work became his life. He didn’t develop a social circle and eventually gave up trying.” For him and others, the Covid pandemic was a trigger point for tang ping. “Like many other workers, Covid made him reassess his priorities in life. Back in his home town, it struck him how, although his artist friends had little money, they always had something interesting to say about their day - while all he had was work. He made a trip abroad and found the same in Vietnam. "So why was he forced to work 60-70 hours a week. Why couldn’t he be like other people? Why not just relax and lie flat? He therefore quit his job.”

While the Covid pandemic might be abating, the tang ping movement is not. On Chinese social media sites, some users are posting messages saying that they do not want to return to the way things were before the pandemic. They now have the confidence to pursue a slower-paced life.

  • Pray that the Lord would meet these young people and show Himself to be the real answer to their vacuum.
  • Pray for solutions to the ‘rat race’ in the East and the West, which demands harder work but fewer benefits with inflation and rising prices.
  • Pray for understanding of these real issues by the governments in the East and the West alike.

(Sources: BBC and Wikipedia).

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Published on March 1, 2022
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