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Wanning countryside, 27th Jan 2015

“Four Generations of Change: Chinese Gen X” Cultural Revolution – Musings from an Australian Perspective

I’m taking a quick side-step on my discussion of Barry Li’s book The New Chinese: How They Are Changing Australia to briefly discuss the Cultural Revolution. This event, from 1966 – 1976 is significant in the lives of the next two generations Li covers in this chapter – those of the Chinese Gen X and the Chinese Baby Boomers. Understanding the way in which the Cultural Revolution shaped the lives and mindset of millions of Chinese is important in understanding how they act today, and the manner of influence they have on the younger generation.

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Wanning countryside village courtyard home, January 2015

“Four Generations of Change: The 80 后” – Musings from an Australian Perspective

80后 hòu is the Chinese term used to describe someone born between 1980 and 1989. This is the generation that Barry Li, author of The New Chinese, belongs to. This is a generation of a rapidly changing environment from post Cultural Revolution to technology, infrastructure and an opening up to the West.

Li describes growing up in Suzhou (China’s version of Oldtown from Westeros) with his great-aunt and his cousin (who really was actually the daughter of his grandmother’s adopted daughter. Complicated. For all intents and purposes, he calls her his sister, which is the done thing among the one-child generations. It used to confuse me a lot when students I used to teach in Beijing would tell me of their multiple brothers and sister; for a long time I thought it was just an English error they were making.)

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An empty Erskinville train station platform, May 2017

“From the Gold Rush to the Property Rush” – Musings from an Australian Perspective

There are plenty of things being done and still more about the frustration Barry Li shares about homeownership in his book The New Chinese: How They Are Changing Australia.

Foreign homeownership has been an element at the heart of the debate over Australian housing market price increases. The Chinese are regularly blamed for the price hike, purportedly pushing new owners out of the competition, and rising rental prices for lack of availability.

Local Chinese families aren’t immune either, unable to compete with Chinese buyers who are helped by “their entire family, who [have] a lifetime of savings in their pocket boosted by the economic boom”.

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A village near Wanning, Hainan, January 2015

“From the Gold Rush to the Property Rush: Poor Chinese” – Musings from an Australian Perspective

 

“’Rich’ and ‘poor’ are relative terms, of course. Australians are unlikely to meet Chinese people who are living below the poverty threshold. Such people do not have enough money to travel here for a holiday or to study, and they certainly do not have the money to invest in Australian property. In this sense, all the Chinese people you meet in Australia are rich.”