The latest economic data released by Chinese authorities showed that economic activity slowed in July. A netizen has posted his conversations with people from different business sectors where he asked how their businesses are doing, and most answers confirmed they are “lying flat,” which keep people wondering given this instability of business, whether employees still have jobs. 

The data shows that the Chinese smartphone market has declined for five consecutive quarters.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, from January to July, commercial housing sales fell 23.1% year-on-year, and residential sales fell 31.4%.

The south has been experiencing droughts, a shortage of electricity and water, and the Yangtze river water level has reached its lowest level in 61 years.

On August 16, Xie Jinhe, chairman of Caixin Media, posted an article on his social networking site titled “The destination of the bubble economy,” indicating that the CCP is continuing to support the economic bubble.

‘Lying flat’ people are everywhere

A netizen who called himself Qin Xiaoming shared on Weibo stories of his friends in their 30s and who work in industries including technology, private finance, and the media; most of them are running businesses and have reached a certain level of financial achievement, or have earned financial freedom.

After checking on these friends, he learned that they all chose “lying flat.”

According to the BBC, “lying flat” or ping tang in Chinese, means taking a permanent break from work. The ping tang movement took hold in 2021 as many people felt they are under increasing pressure to work longer hours and outperform their peers.

According to Qin Xiaoming, the first person he spoke to, had taken a six-month break. By then the company he worked for had cut the staff by half and turned the running of the company to a management team. The team was to just maintain the company.

The second person works in the media. This friend was living some people at a scenic tourist spot, communing with nature.

The third person, who works in the food and beverage industry, said he had closed half of the stores.

When Qin asked his friends how will employees find work to do if the boss isn’t working , so why don’t you continue working, he said the answers were surprisingly consistent. They all said that working now isn’t easy, or they don’t know what to do, or it’s not worth doing.

Business owners and workers are both lying flat.

Qin continued his post: “Even though China has a large and stable state-owned economy, how many jobs can these agencies accommodate? Look at the people around you, classmates around you, from a micro perspective, we are going through a negative cycle like this: The boss doesn’t want to work, the business is stagnant, the employees have no jobs to do. When employees aren’t doing okay financially, consumption won’t be either, businesses won’t be either, and more bosses will lie flat. When more businesses decide to layoff their employees, the unemployment rate will be higher.”

He showed a vicious cycle of Chinese social situations from his point of view.

China is in a “self-destruction mode” 

In an interview with The Market, Joerg Wuttke, chairman of the Beijing-based European Union Commerce Chamber, warned that the CCP is in a self-destruct mode. 

He shared that foreign enterprises are so discouraged that they have been considering shrinking their business operations in China. “China is losing its credibility as the best sourcing location in the world,” Wuttke said. 

When Wuttke was asked if he anticipated any market-friendly reforms in China he said that when the situation in China gets really bad, people, experts in management and administration step in and make some changes that are good. The CCP may reconsider what it is doing like it may realize it actually needs foreign companies. But it seems to Wuttke that authorities aren’t ready to do that yet. He said that the CCP is a prisoner of its own narrative because of Xi Jinping’s decisions.It’s really quite sad. China had the pandemic first and it looks like it will be the last to recover. And the whole time the CCP is saying it is the best.

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