Monday, May 05, 2008

愤青 and 五四

The article 我们这一代的五四宣言 posted yesterday in a forum in mainland China generated intense interest.

In the article the author rejected the label “angry youth (愤青)”for his generation. It is a label often used to describe the mainland youths exhibiting strong nationalistic fervour. Such as those rigorously defending the Olympic torch, criticizing the western press’ negative reporting on Chinese rule in Tibet, and advocating boycott of the French supermarket chain stores.

The current situation in China is probably the best in the past 150 years, starting around the time of the Opium War. The past 30 years have been, with some interruptions, relatively peaceful, open, and prosperous. Compared to 1919, the year of the May Fourth Movement (五四运动), China is in much much better shape today.

That does not mean this generation of youths are without their own angst. The author presented the frustrations of his generation graphically this way:


The proclamation has its positive elements. It opposes violence and treasures peace. It admits possibly simplistic understanding of the western civilization. It proclaims a genuine desire to communicate despite imperfect English.

It definitely struck a cord with a lot of people, judging from the response it is getting.

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