5 years in the past, Luo Huazhong found that he loved doing nothing. He give up his job as a manufacturing facility employee in China, biked 1,300 miles from Sichuan Province to Tibet and determined he might get by on odd jobs and $60 a month from his financial savings. He referred to as his new way of life “mendacity flat.”
“I’ve been chilling,” Mr. Luo, 31, wrote in a weblog submit in April, describing his lifestyle. “I don’t really feel like there’s something mistaken.”
He titled his submit “Mendacity Flat Is Justice,” attaching a photograph of himself mendacity on his mattress in a darkish room with the curtains drawn. Earlier than lengthy, the submit was being celebrated by Chinese language millennials as an anti-consumerist manifesto. “Mendacity flat” went viral and has since change into a broader assertion about Chinese language society.
A technology in the past, the path to success in China was to work onerous, get married and have youngsters. The nation’s authoritarianism was seen as a good trade-off as hundreds of thousands have been lifted out of poverty. However with workers working longer hours and housing costs rising quicker than incomes, many younger Chinese language worry they would be the first technology to not do higher than their dad and mom.
They’re now defying the nation’s long-held prosperity narrative by refusing to take part in it.
Mr. Luo’s weblog submit was eliminated by censors, who noticed it as affront to Beijing’s financial ambitions. Mentions of “mendacity flat” — tangping, because it’s identified in Mandarin — are closely restricted on the Chinese language web. An official counternarrative has additionally emerged, encouraging younger folks to work onerous for the sake of the nation’s future.
“After working for therefore lengthy, I simply felt numb, like a machine,” Mr. Luo stated in an interview. “And so I resigned.”
To lie flat means to forgo marriage, not have youngsters, keep unemployed and eschew materials needs equivalent to a home or a automobile. It’s the reverse of what China’s leaders have requested of their folks. However that didn’t trouble Leon Ding.
Mr. Ding, 22, has been mendacity flat for nearly three months and thinks of the act as “silent resistance.” He dropped out of a college in his remaining yr in March as a result of he didn’t like the pc science main his dad and mom had chosen for him.
After leaving faculty, Mr. Ding used his financial savings to lease a room in Shenzhen. He tried to discover a common workplace job however realized that almost all positions required him to work lengthy hours. “I need a secure job that permits me to have my very own time to chill out, however the place can I discover it?” he stated.
Mr. Ding thinks younger folks ought to work onerous for what they love, however not “996” — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days per week — as many employers in China count on. Pissed off with the job search, he determined that “mendacity flat” was the best way to go.
“To be sincere, it feels actually snug,” he stated. “I don’t wish to be too onerous on myself.”
To make ends meet, Mr. Ding will get paid to play video video games and has minimized his spending by doing issues like reducing out his favourite bubble tea. Requested about his long-term plans, he stated: “Come again and ask me in six months. I solely plan for six months.”
Whereas loads of Chinese language millennials proceed to stick to the nation’s conventional work ethic, “mendacity flat” displays each a nascent counterculture motion and a backlash in opposition to China’s hypercompetitive work setting.
Xiang Biao, a professor of social anthropology at Oxford College who focuses on Chinese language society, referred to as tangping tradition a turning level for China. “Younger folks really feel a type of strain that they can not clarify and so they really feel that guarantees have been damaged,” he stated. “Individuals notice that materials betterment is now not the one most necessary supply of that means in life.”
The ruling Communist Occasion, cautious of any type of social instability, has focused the “mendacity flat” concept as a risk to stability in China. Censors have deleted a tangping group with greater than 9,000 members on Douban, a preferred web discussion board. The authorities additionally barred posts on one other tangping discussion board with greater than 200,000 members.
In Might, China’s web regulator ordered on-line platforms to “strictly limit” new posts on tangping, in response to a directive obtained by The New York Occasions. A second directive required e-commerce platforms to cease promoting garments, telephone instances and different merchandise branded with “tangping.”
The state information media has referred to as tangping “shameful,” and a newspaper warned in opposition to “mendacity flat earlier than getting wealthy.” Yu Minhong, a outstanding billionaire, urged younger folks to not lie down, as a result of “in any other case who can we depend on for the way forward for our nation?”
Mr. Luo determined to put in writing about tangping after he noticed folks heatedly discussing China’s newest census ends in April and requires the nation to deal with a looming demographic disaster by having extra infants.
He described his unique “mendacity flat” weblog submit as “an interior monologue from a person residing on the backside of the society.”
“These individuals who say mendacity down is shameful are shameless,” he stated. “I’ve the appropriate to decide on a gradual way of life. I didn’t do something damaging to society. Do we now have to work 12 hours a day in a sweatshop, and is that justice?”
Mr. Luo was born in rural Jiande County, in jap Zhejiang Province. In 2007, he dropped out of a vocational highschool and began working in factories. One job concerned working 12-hour shifts at a tire manufacturing facility. By the top of the day, he had blisters throughout his ft, he stated.
In 2014, he discovered a job as a product inspector in a manufacturing facility however didn’t prefer it. He give up after two years and took on the occasional appearing gig to make ends meet. (In 2018, he performed a corpse in a Chinese language film by, in fact, mendacity flat.)
As we speak, he lives together with his household and spends his days studying philosophy and information and figuring out. He stated it was a great way of life, permitting him to reside minimally and “suppose and specific freely.” He encourages his followers, who name him “the Grasp of Mendacity Down,” to do the identical.
After listening to about Mr. Luo’s tangping submit on a Chinese language podcast, Zhang Xinmin, 36, was impressed to put in writing a music about it.
Mr. Zhang, a musician based mostly in Wuhan, had give up his job in promoting 5 years in the past to pursue his music, and the thought of mendacity flat resonated with him. He referred to as his music “Tangping Is the Proper Means.”
Mr. Zhang uploaded the music to his social media platforms on June 3, and inside a day censors had deleted it from three web sites. He was livid.
“These days, solely working ahead is allowed, however not mendacity down,” he stated. “It doesn’t make sense to me that they deleted this music.”
He finally uploaded the music as a video on YouTube, which is blocked in China. The video exhibits him mendacity down on his couch, casually strumming his guitar as he sings in a breezy voice:
Mendacity down is basically good
Mendacity down is great
Mendacity down is the appropriate factor to do
Lie down so that you gained’t fall anymore
Mendacity down means by no means falling down.