To understand the Chinese Millenials better, let’s take a look at the concept of Chinese Vampires and their disregard for the xiào.
The xiào is the base to set up a good society, at least in Confucian values. I would translate it to western culture as the extention of the Biblical definition of `honor your father and mother`. To explain it better, we will look into Taiwanese society. In Taiwan, generations of families still live together. When young couples marry, the bride will move in with her huband–AND the parents in-law. When the parents in-law age, there is no such thing as putting them into a nursing home. The in-laws get well taken care of. Furthermore, when they pass away, the younger generation must leave food out for them, burn fake money, and incense. If you don´t, get prepared for their revenge and anger. With globalization, you would think the younger generation of Taiwanese would´ve already rejected these values–but they haven´t. In general, they are still afraid of the spirits of the ancestors; you can´t even whistle at night because it´s a call to ghosts.
Well, why did I suggest looking in to Taiwan and not China? Apparently, these values aren´t alive in China, not anymore. These ancestral Confucian values were replaced by Maoist values, and now the communist government is trying to instill the xiào in the younger people. They are the vampire generation. Since families have one child only, these little emperors are now being offered everything at their feet, especially if they are male. Now there is no such thing as obeying the older sibling (which is traditional of Confucian values, as well), and much less sharing. This new generation is known as the ken lao zu or the´biting old generation.´ They suck the blood out of their parents and give nothing in return–or so foreignpolicy says. They see everything the other way around — parents are the ones that should do everything they can to take care of their children.
Where did they get this idea? Perhaps from Germany, where parents are obliged to pay for their children´s college or show bona fide proof they can´t afford it? Or perhaps from Latin American culture, where adults aren´t expected to move out of their parents´house or pay for college bills until they get married.
Now the Chinese government is trying to impose on these so-called vampires to take care physically and mentally of their elders. Bring the Confucian rockstar back – they even erected a statue for Confucius in Tian An Men (Door to Heaven). Now, you´d think they would have taken it away, perhaps in fear of Mao´s spirit in earth, but remember the government isn´t supposed to believe in spirits. It does believe, however, in keeping itself on its feet. Because Confucius also preached on a set of guides for a virtuous government, perhaps not consistent with the current, the statue disappeared.
Am I making a political stand, criticizing the Chinese government and praising the Taiwanese? Not at all. I never understood some parts of this worship your elder and ancestors happening in Taiwan. Why did it smell so weird during Ghost Month? Which when I was there, took place in August-October-ish and included streets filled with weird smells of incense and food sacrifices. I never understood all these rituals which only brought fear to the population. I was afraid, too. I heard once from one of my Mandarin professors to never pick out money from the street. It could be a trap – money left outside by grieving parents to oblige you after you picked the money, to marry their deceased child. How creepy is that? Such weird things I heard and saw myself while I was living there.
I wonder what crazy campaign the Chinese will come up with to revive this values of taking care of the elder. I read in foreignpolicy that now they are trying to oblige the youth to take care of their aging parents. But perhaps they will want to enforce this law with a positive image. Will they install speakers on trashtrucks and play recordings on how important it is to be responsible to the elder? Or perhaps make elementary school children read books about it? Perhaps hire a celebrity to endorse their position? I will keep an eye on this and let you know!