‘State policies are like a train. When it turns round the corner it throws you off
Throughout my reading and research on the experiences of the educated youth(zhiqing), in particular those who experienced the Up to the Mountains Down to theCountryside (UMDC) movement, the manner in which life courses can be sofundamentally influenced by the actions of the state seems so appropriately summedup in the above quotation. Consider a long and necessary journey where the trainmay be your only option of transportation. Even if you are thrown off along the
journey, you still have to get back on track. Despite the ‘injuries’ incurred through,
the journey goes on to make your destination. In the case of the returning zhiqing,
how would these ‘injuries’ of implemented policies impact upon their li
fe courses andshape their post UMDC experiences? Moreover, what was their response to being
In this essay, the author wishes to investigate the post-UMDC experiences andresponses in light of the rise of neoliberalist values in China. In order to fullyhighlight the social costs of the growing neoliberalist policy orientation of the Chinese
state throughout the late 80’s and 90’s
, the author will focus on those zhiqing whospent more than six years in the countryside under the UMDC movement and whoselife, as Zhou and Han (1999, pp.18) suggest, experienced a more severe impact as aresult of a relatively long stay in the countryside. The author will first explore thenature of the reforms and opening-
up policies from the late 70’s onwards in China
and their subsequent impacts on the life of the returned zhiqing. Following that, wewill consider the how active the zhiqing have been in responding to these processes.
Wind of Return to the Cities(
): What were the Zhiqing Returning to?
Lasting for 12 years, the UMDC movement was a means of alleviated growingpopulation and unemployment issues in the cities of China, as well as a means of
Hung, E. P. H. and Chiu, S. W.K., 2003, p.1. The Lost Generation: Life Course Dynamics and Xiagangin China.