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Is China’s emerging class reunion a sign of ageing?


Class reunion is emerging quietly in China, is it the proof of economic development or a sign of ageing? Shanghai resident Zhang Dongguang has, since recently, frequently participated in high school class reunions. Last Sunday, he revelled till mid-night. A week ago, he participated in several similar gatherings too. In late April, he was also ready to participate in a Two Days, One Night "classmate tour". Three months ago, Mr. Zhang began to participate in various class reunions, whose number of attendants would reach more than 20. He often went home late and was scorned by his wife. However, he would rather face complaints than give up the fulfillment of participating in these reunions. He said that the relationship between classmates is completely different from that between superior and subordinate, they can speak out their mind freely.

在中国,同学会悄然兴起——是经济发展的见证还是老龄化的前兆? 上海的张冬光最近多了一种快乐:频繁参加中学时代的“同学会”。上周日张一直狂欢至深夜。一周前,他还参加了类似聚会。4月下旬,他还准备参加长达2天1晚的“同窗游”。张于3个月前开始参加各类同学聚会。聚会时少则数人,多则20多人。尽管常深夜回家遭到妻子抱怨,但对张来说,他宁愿忍受妻子的抱怨也不愿放弃参加同窗会带来的充实感。他认为,此类聚会的魅力在于“同学之间不存在上下级和利益关系,可全身心放松地说任何话。”

So, why is the class reunion gaining popularity in China? There are several reasons. First, the smartphones have become popular. According to a survey, 55% of Chinese adults now have smartphones. In large cities, many of the elderly also love using smartphones. People create WeChat groups so that they can get in touch with each other at any time, which reduces the difficulty of organizing class reunions greatly. Second, Chinese people are getting richer. According to Mr. Zhang, the per capita consumption of each class reunion is 100 yuan. Drinking and karaoke after dinner cost them more, than they usually spend  in a month. However, Mr. Zhang and his classmates don’t care much. The more important point is that the generation that received education after the Cultural Revolution has now already reached retirement age. Plenty of leisure time makes the class reunion gradually become a trend of memorizing the past and enhancing current friendship.


However, the emerging class reunions also reflects a problem that may occur in China in the future. As China has implemented the one-child policy for decades, its ageing process has overtaken that of Japan. The number of people aged over 60 exceeded 200 million in 2013. The labor force is starting to shrink and some people think that China’s "demographic golden period" has ended. Just like public square dancing that has caused social conflicts, the emerging class reunions also reflect the fact that China’s current society is facing many changes



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