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China’s Gen Z Watches Closely as “Two Sessions” Lawmakers Discuss Hanfu Day and More

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China’s annual “Two Sessions” meeting of political decision-makers often sets a tone for the year ahead. This year, Gen Z and millennial viewers watch closely as lawmakers convene on a host of youth-relevant issues.

This year’s agenda highlights proposals around education, marriage/family issues, and traditional Chinese clothing. According to some reports, over 80% of college students responded that they’d been following the meetings.

Here are just a few of the major talking points circulating around this year’s Two Sessions.

Related:

“Two Sessions” Takeaways: What You Need to Know from China’s Big Meetings So Far

Education 

In education, this time, teachers are coming first.

Proposals point to the importance of empowering educators; one proposal in particular is receiving a lot of attention, which seeks to address the imbalance of male and female teachers in primary and secondary schools. Another aims to reform nationwide training systems for aspiring educators.

A suggestion to remove English as a mandatory subject for primary and middle school students has sparked a heated debate on social media. The hashtag has received over 150 million views at the time of writing.

“It doesn’t mean to discourage learning English, but change the standards around it,” one highly upvoted comments reads. “Primary and middle school education should emphasize English oral expression, and in college, students can strengthen writing skills.”  

“Does the abolition of English intend to improve the study of Chinese and math?” asks another. 

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Marriage and Family 

One major bombshell this time around has been the suggestion to lift birth restrictions completely.

In 2016, China’s One-Child Policy became a Two-Child Policy. Now, in the face of declining birth rates, those limits may disappear entirely. The suggestion included extra support for some families in the form of tax cuts, and subsidies in education, medical care, and employment.

As China’s aging population increases, the working-age population is expected to decrease by 35 million people over the next five years. In 2020, there were only 10.35 million babies born in China, a sharp drop of 15 percent from the year before. A survey shows that around 60 percent of people support the three-child policy.

As a further incentive to have children, another proposal calls for couples to take maternity leave together, with the father allotted up to 42 days of leave.

Related: 

One-Third of Chinese Millennials and Gen Z Indifferent to Marriage, Study Finds

Hanfu?

Hanfu, the ancient Chinese clothing seen in popular TV dramas, has exploded in popularity over recent years.

Now a lawmaker named Cheng Xinxiang, described as a “non-genetic inheritor of Hunan embroidery”, has submitted a proposal for a National Hanfu Day.

Hanfu has hit a sweet spot in recent years, being loved by young people as a tool for expression, and also by officials as a tool for building “cultural confidence.”

According to a survey, more than 103,000 out of 135,000 participants responded that it was “very necessary” to establish a National Hanfu Day. 

Related: 

Search for Traditional Chinese Clothing Continues, In Spite of Confusion

Jocelyn Yang
    Jocelyn Yang is a student journalist at Emerson College and serves as an editorial intern at RADII. Her primary field of interest is writing about Chinese and American cultures. Follows her on Twitter @_jocelynyang_.