A heartbreaking video of a retiree that showed what groceries she could buy with 100 yuan, or $14.50 — roughly her monthly pension and sole source of income — went viral on the Chinese internet. The video was deleted.
A singer vented the widespread frustration among young, educated Chinese about their dire finances and gloomy job prospects, like gig work. “I wash my face every day, but my pocket is cleaner than my face,” he sings. “I went to college to help rejuvenate China, not to deliver meals.” His song was banned and his social media accounts were suspended.
A migrant worker toiling to support his family gained widespread sympathy and attention last year after he tested positive for Covid, and officials released extensive details of his movements. He became known as the hardest-working person in China. Censors blocked discussions about him, and local authorities were stationed outside his house to prevent journalists from visiting his wife.
China says it is a socialist country that aims to promote common prosperity. In 2021, its top leader, Xi Jinping, declared “a comprehensive victory in the battle against poverty.” Yet many people remain poor or live just above the poverty line. With the country’s economic prospects dimming and the people’s increasing anxiety about their future, poverty has become a taboo subject that can draw ire from the government.