Chinese youth are already under intense social and family pressure to marry. The Communist Party of China (CPC) recently decided to add more weight to the youth’s shoulders — or, according to the official tone, “provide some help.”
In a press conference on May 17, the head of China’s Communist Youth League, the youth division of the CPC, announced that the League would help youth to solve the problem of dating and marriage, since “the singles in old age” is a major concern for Chinese youths. He said:
With the development of Chinese society, the age for young people to enter marriage and to have kids has be delayed compared to the past… For many young people, they wouldn’t graduate from college until 20-something; then they would start to work and establish some basic foundations, and by then they would already in their late twenties when they started to think about marriage. These youth in old age, having very narrow social circle, would be unable to find the object of marriage.
Thus, the League offered three ways to help solve the issue.
- To help the youth establish a correct view of marriage and family. The League would use the media to guide the youth and organize some activities to educate the youth to help them establish a correct view.
- To create opportunities for the youth. The League would carry out events and activities by cooperating with other social organizations in order to expand the youth’s social circles.
- To promote matchmaking services. The League would coordinate relevant government departments to promote legal matchmaking services and combat fraud.
The League’s latest announcement did not come from a sudden impulse. On April 13, the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council jointly issued the Medium and Long Term Plan of Youth Development (2016-2025). The Plan covers all aspects of a young person’s life, including ideology, education, health, employment, culture, as well as dating and marriage. The national Plan said very clearly that China would take full advantage of mass media to promote “the civilized, healthy, rational, and positive view of marriage” and “clearly resist the negative view of marriage.”
In recent years, the Chinese mass media has already tried very hard to promote marriage. Quite a few slogans have been coined to smear single young Chinese, such as “unmarried youth in old age” (although no one knows what age range a “youth in old age” falls into) , “leftover women” (women who remain unmarried in their late 20s and beyond), “single dogs ” (all single people, both male and female, could be referred to as dogs), and “empty-nest youth” (a phrase developed from empty-nest elders).
As a backdrop to this official endorsement of marriage, the Chinese government is determined to increase the population. After 30 years of the one-child policy, China has adopted the two-child policy in 2015, and in rural areas, local governments tend to acquiesce to families with three or even more kids.
Despite social smears and national pressure, more and more Chinese adults are choosing to stay single. China’s single adult population reached nearly 200 million by 2015, accounting for 14.6 percent of the total population, according to local media reports, which cite data from China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs. Many Chinese single women also stand up against stigmatization. For example, a documentary-style advertisement centered around “leftover women” went viral in China in 2016 and inspired a great number of Chinese single women to say no to marriage under pressure.