China’s Latest Restriction: Forbidding Youth From Adopting ‘Buddha-Like’ Lifestyle

China’s Latest Restriction: Forbidding Youth From Adopting ‘Buddha-Like’ Lifestyle
A young woman looks at her smartphone in Chongqing City on Aug. 24, 2016. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images)
By Nicole Hao

A “Buddha-like lifestyle,” or “fo xi” in Mandarin Chinese, is a term coined around 2017 that describes a life philosophy that more and more Chinese youths are adopting: having no desires, being indifferent, not ambitious to achieve anything, nor caring to please others.

Dong Zhenhua, a professor at the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Party School, the leading institution for training cadres, wrote an article criticizing the “fo xi” lifestyle that was published Jan. 20 in People’s Forum, a magazine printed by the Party’s mouthpiece newspaper, People’s Daily.

Many other state-run media outlets re-published the article on their websites.

Dong, who also is deputy director of the Party School’s philosophy education department, wrote that a “fo xi” lifestyle will lead people to “give up their principles and follow others.”

“Lacking in the desire to chase their dreams,” these people will lose the motivation in life, and then “care less about laws and regulations,” Dong claimed.

He advised youth not to take up that lifestyle. “The adverse effects of the ‘fo xi’ mentality can’t be ignored,” Dong wrote.

The Chinese regime has recently stepped up attempts to moderate people’s lifestyle choices.

A day before Dong’s article was published, news emerged that iQiyi, a popular online video platform similar to Netflix, had begun censoring images of male celebrities who wore earrings while appearing on television or video programs. Their earrings were blurred out.

China’s Latest Restriction: Forbidding Youth From Adopting ‘Buddha-Like’ Lifestyle
Chinese actor and rapper Kris Wu attends the Louis Vuitton Menswear Fall/Winter 2019–2020 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on Jan. 17, 2019. Male celebrities wearing earrings were recently blurred out by online video platform iQiyi. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images for Louis Vuitton)

Though officials denied that there was a ban, it’s unusual for media companies to engage in censorship without some form of instruction from Chinese authorities.

In fact, state-run media Xinhua published a commentary in September 2018 that criticized the phenomenon of men choosing to look and act effeminate. “From ‘young’ to ‘beautiful’ and, finally, ‘effeminate’ is an abnormal progression of aesthetics.”

Prominent Beijing-based activist Hu Jia told Radio Free Asia why more youth are adopting the “fo xi” philosophy. In a society that stresses one’s family background and social status, many youths believe that no matter how hard they try, they don’t have the resources or clout of the descendants of princelings or wealthy elites.

“The family members of the powerful and wealthy lead politics and the economy,” Hu said. “It’s not enough for one to be capable. For private companies, it’s impossible for them to maintain a fair, competitive environment.”

Hu added that the Chinese regime does not allow a carefree, “fo xi” life because it wants citizens to “pretend to be very happy and very proud of the system.”

Tang Jingyuan, a U.S.-based commentator with the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times said that the “fo xi” philosophy also doesn’t match with Communist ideology.

“In a disguised way, this kind of lifestyle is resisting the kind of restrictions the Chinese regime places on society,” Tang said in an interview on Jan. 23. “These people use a soft, passive way to express their dissatisfaction to the government.”

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