The plight of a younger couple captivates the Chinese language Web
- By Fan Wang
- BBC Information, Singapore
A younger Chinese language couple whose battle to personal an condo highlights the nation’s financial downturn has captivated the nation.
Zhang Yiliang and his spouse Dong Lijun, each of their 30s, documented the final two years of their lives, ranging from the second they purchased the condo. Their account “Liangliang Lijun Couple” has gained greater than 400,000 followers on Douyin.
What began as a celebration finally bumped into issues, together with a dispute with an actual property developer who they mentioned owed them cash. In latest weeks, they’ve claimed they had been assaulted and their movies had been censored, incomes them the sympathy of hundreds of thousands on-line.
Their expertise as small-town residents dreaming of the massive metropolis appears to have resonated with many atypical Chinese language – reflecting the challenges they face and their dashed hopes amid an actual property disaster in a sluggish economic system.
“What you put up is actual life,” one Douyin person wrote. “Truly, life is difficult for many younger folks. It is not a celebration each night time.” One other remark, which was appreciated a whole lot of instances, mentioned: “Their story resonates as a result of they’re identical to us.”
Some mentioned their aspirations represented the so-called Chinese language Dream, an idea popularized by President Xi Jinping, which champions the rejuvenation of the Chinese language nation.
“Liangliang and Lijun set a transparent instance of the Chinese language dream,” a former journalist mentioned in a video on his social media channel. “That is to say to everybody, particularly younger folks: essentially the most diligent, law-abiding and optimistic residents don’t deserve the Chinese language dream, not to mention others. Thanks to the couple for serving to us see the cruel facet of China’s actuality.”
However the video has since been deleted, and his Weibo account has been blocked from posting.
On the middle of the couple’s emotional ups and downs is their condo, which they purchased in 2021. They first posted about their buy on Douyin, China’s model of TikTok, in November of that 12 months.
“Now of all of the lights, there will probably be one on just for me,” the completely happy couple wrote alongside the video they shared on their accounts Liangliang and Lijun.
They continually posted in regards to the progress of their condo’s development, and visited the location nearly each month.
One month later, Ms. Dong returned house with dangerous information: she needed to settle for a discount in her wage, bringing it down to only 2,000 yuan. She appeared in a video clip, crying as she conveyed the information to her husband: “Our wage is already the bottom… What ought to I do?”
The video probably echoed related tales throughout China with rising unemployment. “I can not be the one one who cries whereas watching their movies,” one remark learn.
However for the younger couple, the worst is but to return.
In Could 2022, the developer – Sunac China Holdings Restricted – admitted to monetary issues after lacking the deadline for paying curiosity on bonds.
This was a time when different actual property builders, resembling Evergrande, had been struggling to repay money owed and ship properties. However Mr. Zhang and Ms. Dong stay optimistic. Days after the announcement, Zhang mentioned in a put up: “We selected Sunac so we should always belief them. We imagine they are going to act responsibly as an organization ought to, and ship the venture.”
However after two months, development stopped. They spent the subsequent few months asking the corporate to renew development, which they did in early 2023. Throughout that point, that they had a daughter.
Life gave the impression to be again on observe, however they mentioned the corporate nonetheless owed them a 20,000 yuan low cost, which that they had been asking for months.
Then on November 15, the pair went to an occasion hosted by Sunak and live-streamed their encounter. Their Douyin account had no posts after that day.
However social media was quickly crammed with posts and feedback saying the couple was overwhelmed in the course of the stay broadcast, and the video is not obtainable. Screenshots shared by customers additionally present a collection of posts, the place Mr Zhang seems to have visited a hospital. In one other video posted on Ms. Dong’s private account on November 18, he mentioned: “There are a whole lot of guidelines on this society that we’ve to observe. It’s not unusual for our movies to be restricted or disappear.”
The couple mentioned they known as the police instantly. Native police informed the Southern Metropolis Day by day that they had “punished” the attackers and would observe up. Sunak China didn’t reply to BBC questions.
The incident attracted large consideration on-line and from Chinese language media. It topped the record of subjects on Weibo, the Chinese language equal of X, with tens of 1000’s of feedback and shares. Whereas some questioned their model of occasions, many sympathized with them.
“Individuals are being overwhelmed and never allowed to talk. Are they nonetheless allowed to stay?” reads the top-liked remark. “Can we assist them and our neighborhood?” requested one other Weibo person.
“They went to the developer time and again, as a result of they’re very poor and really want this cash,” mentioned former editor-in-chief Hu Xi Jin. “They recorded the beating, they had been wronged however that they had nowhere to go.” The state-run World Instances newspaper wrote on Weibo.
“It is rather vital for us to make sure that the arduous work of atypical folks pays off, and that their ardour and hope for the longer term stays alive,” he added.
Mr. Zhang and Ms. Dong say they haven’t but obtained the low cost. Final week, they sparked a brand new debate — stuffed with anger and disappointment — after they mentioned they would depart Zhengzhou and return to Mr. Zhang’s hometown.
“Strange folks like them are the bulk, so the way in which issues ended for them is very painful for us,” mentioned one touch upon Weibo that has been appreciated 1000’s of instances.
However the couple have since mentioned they’re hesitant, and skepticism has joined sympathy, with some customers questioning whether or not Mr Zhang and Ms Dong had been benefiting from all the web consideration.
Others puzzled whether or not they had been giving in to stress from native authorities, who wished to keep away from dangerous publicity for Zhengzhou.
A remark of their newest video, on Ms. Dong’s private account on Douyin, learn: “It is so arduous. It is so arduous to be your self.”