Mindset Shift

2020-05-21 10:04:55 Beijing Review 2020年21期

By Ji Jing

When the novel coronavirus epidemic was at its peak in China, Dou Huining, a 30-year-old civil servant in Tianjin, a port city in north China, supervised epidemic control measures in local vegetable markets, kept vigil at the entrance of residential building blocks and picked up people returning from overseas at the airport to take them to designated hotels for quarantine. “I felt proud to contribute when we were in a period of emergency,” she told Beijing Review.

Dou also said her love for the nation strengthened for the government put peoples lives over everything else and spared no effort to save patients during the epidemic prevention and control work.

The epidemic, the biggest public health crisis since the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949, has one positive fallout. It has reshaped the values of young people in China, according to a survey conducted from March to April by a team under Lian Si, a sociologist at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

According to the survey results, 98.5 percent of the respondents said the fi ght against the epidemic has once again proved the wisdom of the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the advantages of socialism. Also, 98.3 percent said the epidemic control has made them realize that the CPC provides the core leadership in all kinds of causes in China. Asked what should be the foundation of a political partys governance, 70.2 percent said“putting people first and seeking benefits for the people” while only 10.3 percent answered“driving social and economic development.”

In terms of satisfaction with the epidemic control measures, 93.7 percent said Chinas epidemic control measures have effectively ensured safety of peoples lives and assets; 92.1 percent said in an emergency, they would be ready to follow government rules and management; and 91.7 percent said the epidemic has raised their recognition of the CPCs governing concept and effectiveness.

A student surnamed Lu in the English Department of Peking University told Beijing Review that the epidemic made her realize the advantage of Chinas political system. “After the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Party and the government swiftly rolled out a series of epidemic prevention and control measures such as putting Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, on lockdown and building temporary hospitals in the city to accommodate the surging number of patients. These measures effectively curbed the spread of the epidemic and demonstrated the governing capability of the CPC.”

Epidemic-fighting generation

Lian is known for coining the term “ant tribe” in an eponymous anthropological book published in 2009. It describes the life of Chinas young college graduates who were born in the 1980s and are usually from small towns or rural areas. They dreamed of a better life in big cities but struggled with low-paying jobs and poor living standards.

In April, Lian came up with a new term,“the epidemic-f ighting generation,” to describe the young people who took part in the fight against the epidemic. To learn more about this generation, Lians team sent out 12,433 digital questionnaires to those born in the 1990s or 2000s and received answers from 11,736 people.

The respondents come from a wide range of professions and geographical areas. Those born in the 1990s accounted for 80.4 percent of the respondents, with the rest born in the 2000s. Of those surveyed, 29.3 percent have participated in epidemic control. In this group, 26.3 percent work in logistical sectors including as couriers and truck drivers; 18.4 percent are community workers, 15.6 percent communitylevel off icials and 14.1 percent medical workers. The 70.7 percent who didnt participate in epidemic control on the frontline contributed in various other ways, including following government guidelines on epidemic prevention and control and performing other duties.

The survey studied the impact of the epidemic on young peoples values in natural,moral, social, political, national and international dimensions.

The relation between man and nature is the most basic social relation and the foundation for human survival. The survey revealed that 96.4 percent of the respondents stated that the epidemic has made them realize that they shouldnt eat wild animals. Also, 95.3 percent said the epidemic has taught them to have more respect for nature.

The epidemic has brought family members closer as they share more time under the same roof. In the past, families used to spend more time with each other, such as sitting together to watch TV. Later, the bond between family members weakened as everyone has a cellphone and is overwhelmed with information from diversified sources. Nevertheless, during the epidemic, as people were stuck at home, there were more interactions among different generations and peoples value systems converged toward core socialist values.

A total of 90.1 percent respondents said during the epidemic, they empathized more with the older generations way of thinking, 94.5 percent said during the epidemic they identifi ed with traditional Chinese moral values more, and 91.3 percent said the epidemic has helped foster consensus in society.

Dedication to duty and camaraderie, as exemplifi ed by the medical workers who were on the frontline, have inspired young people to understand the core socialist values. The survey found 91.4 percent of the respondents felt Chinese youth showed core socialist values in the epidemic and 90.5 percent said they would like to turn core socialist values into their moral standards and code of conduct. Some respondents said the epidemic made them realize that their anxieties are nothing in the face of death. The epidemic also opened their eyes to how different regions assisted one another and the sincerity between people.

The epidemic has influenced young peoples view of role models as well. Asked to name the three groups that they admire most in epidemic prevention and control, 96.1 percent rooted for frontline medical workers, 90.5 percent said public health and medical experts and 85.2 percent chose police officers and community level offi cials.

Shouldering responsibilities

The epidemic has also changed young peoples social values. In terms of social responsibility, 85.3 percent said the heroism of people fi ghting the epidemic inspired them to assume their social responsibilities; 84.6 percent said the epidemic made them realize they should spend their youth working where the Party and people need them most; and 80.3 percent said if needed, they would go to the frontline of epidemic control. For young people, social responsibility is no longer an abstract concept. They have gained a sense of accomplishment and honor from fulfi lling their responsibilities.

Peking Universitys Lu said the epidemic has strengthened her sense of mission and responsibility. “Young people have played important roles in the fi ght against the epidemic. There are many post-90s like me in the medical teams sent by the Peking University-affiliated hospitals to Hubei,” she said, referring to the province in central China where Wuhan is located. “They fought the epidemic on the frontline when the country needed them.”

She herself did what was within her capacity to contribute to epidemic control. She compiled articles on COVID-19 and prevention measures with her classmates and published them online to inform the general public.

In terms of national values, the epidemic has enhanced young peoples identification with the Chinese nation. A total of 94.8 percent respondents felt the fi ght against the epidemic demonstrated the unity of the Chinese nation and 98.7 percent felt proud of being part of the Chinese nation. The love for the motherland arising from the fi ght against the epidemic has become a valuable spiritual asset for young people to confront disasters.

Lu said she now has a better understanding of the unity of the Chinese nation. “When the outbreak occurred, medical teams from other parts of China went to Wuhan to fi ght the epidemic and supplies were sent to Hubei. The whole country united to overcome diffi culties,”she said.

In terms of international view, 97.4 percent agreed that the Chinese people have made tremendous contributions and sacrifi ces in the global fight against the pandemic; 95.5 percent felt China has demonstrated the morality and responsibility of a responsible country in the global fight against the epidemic; while 90.3 percent said China has demonstrated the spirit of internationalism and humanitarianism in sending medical supplies and medical teams to other countries. The survey also showed todays Chinese youth have a better understanding of the concept of a community with a shared future for humanity because of the epidemic.

According to 98.3 percent of the young people surveyed, the epidemic has taught them that countries around the world are a community with a shared future and should share weal and woe, while 97.6 percent felt that countries should work together to confront the epidemic rather than smear and attack one another.