Why China was quiet and quit long before the rest of the world caught on

There are more than 100 million video views with the hashtag “quiet quitting” on the TikTok app. Although there is no single definition of quitting, the term does not actually mean giving up your job. It actually means doing what is required at work and no more. The rejection of the hustle culture is happening all over the world, including in China, where the movement started long before it became popular in the West.

You may have heard about “quiet quitting” this summer. The phrase, which means doing what is required at work and no more, went viral on the TikTok app after a software engineer in New York posted a video about the trend.

Yet the rejection of crowding culture started in China long before it became popular in the West.

“I talk to my friends and they often use the term like ‘tang ping,’ I really want to lie down and I don’t want to do my work and I don’t want to achieve anything,” said Dian Gu, who works as a content specialist for a Internet business in China.

Since 2021, the internet in China has been flooded with the phrases tang ping, which means “lying flat” in Mandarin, and more recently, bai lan, which means “let it rot.” This has coincided with many young people in China becoming increasingly frustrated with both their personal and professional lives.

Unlike most countries, China has continued to pursue a zero-Covid strategy, which requires strict and sudden shutdowns and extensive testing for cities experiencing outbreaks and confines hundreds of millions of Chinese to their homes.

As a result, the economy has slowed and unemployment is rising. The labor market has shrunk since 2019, and there is fierce competition for white-collar jobs.

“We could certainly link this wave of quitting and rethinking work to an inherent lack of satisfaction with what’s out there in terms of job availability,” said Maria Kordowicz, a senior lecturer in organizational behavior at the University of Nottingham.

So is China’s hard-working culture changing? Watch our video above to find out more.

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