Economy In China Driving Graduates To Suicide

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China’s Hang Seng Index, much like our DOW, has made surprising leaps in the last few months. Each leap based on manipulated data and earnings reports from the U.S. which obscure the real state of the economy. They call it a “suckers rally”, and the term fits. When the the world markets jump hundreds of points just because Goldman Sachs reports a “profit”, something is wrong. All the market fundamentals are being ignored by investors, including the Housing Markets, which continue to plummet in value, and Unemployment, which continues to skyrocket. Both of these factors would be the FIRST to improve if the economy was turning around, yet Wall Street hounds seem only obsessed with whether or not banks are lending again? Improving credit markets is meaningless when average people don’t have the ability to repay the loans that are offered to them because they are unemployed.

Just as in the U.S., China’s markets do not truthfully reflect what is going on in the real economy. One has to look to the average Chinese citizen to divine what is happening, and apparently, the signs are not good. American college graduates will leech off their parents when they realize that no jobs are waiting for them and their degree is a $50,000 scrap of toilet paper. Chinese graduates do not have this luxury, because it is they who are expected to enter the professional workforce and support their family. Returning home empty handed is not an option in China; welcome to the wonderful world of collectivism.

Realizing that they have worked and suffered to retain a degree, all for nothing, Chinese graduates are reverting to suicide en masse. This is the truth of the economic collapse which China cannot hide. It is getting so bad, people would rather die.

Americans should pay very close attention to the atmosphere of China, because our economic fate rests squarely in their hands. Should China decide to cut its losses and liquidate its massive holdings in U.S. Dollars, our currency would collapse. But, perhaps this has been the plan all along………

Wave Of Suicide Sweeps China’s Graduate Class

Millions of students will graduate in China this year, but with up to a third unable to get a job the number of suicides is soaring.

By David Eimer in Hebei Province
Published: 9:00PM BST 25 Jul 2009

July was supposed to have marked the start of Liu Wei’s new life.

With more than six million other students across China, the 21-year-old was due to graduate from college this month.

For Miss Liu, the daughter of poor farmers, a degree was to be her passport out of a life of poverty, a way to escape working in the fields, or toiling as a humble migrant worker in a far-off factory in southern China.

But her dream of making the huge leap from farm girl to college graduate will never become reality. Deeply depressed and ashamed about her failure to find a job to take up when she graduated, and consumed with guilt about the financial sacrifices her family had made for her, Miss Liu brought her studies and her life to a premature end by drowning herself in a ditch full of freezing, filthy water.

“She did it because she was worried she wouldn’t be able to find a job and so she wouldn’t be able to repay us,” her grief-stricken father, Liu Shangyun, told The Sunday Telegraph. His eyes were downcast as he recalled how he saw her alive for the last time, just two weeks before her death.

“I took her back to college. She seemed normal and she sent me a message saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’m OK,’” said Mr Liu. But the next time he saw her, it was to identify her body.

Miss Liu’s reaction to her predicament was extreme, but not unusual. In April, a report by the Shanghai Education Commission listed suicide as the leading cause of death among students. And with one in three of this year’s graduates unable to get a job, according to education ministry figures released last week, Miss Liu’s anxiety about finding work is shared by most students.

“I’m afraid of being unemployed,” said Chen Meijun, who is about to graduate from the Capital University of Economics and Business in Beijing with a degree in e-commerce.

“It’s a lot of pressure because my family will worry. They try and comfort me, but the main pressure is from me. I feel I should be able to find a job after four years of studying.”

China faces a huge glut of graduates. With 1.5 million graduates from last year still out of work, there are simply not enough jobs to go around, and the problem has been exacerbated by the impact of the global financial crisis.

For Beijing, which in October will celebrate 60 years of communist rule in China, soaring graduate unemployment could not have come at a worse time.

Now, the authorities face the prospect of the harmonious society which the ruling Chinese Communist Party hails as its greatest achievement being destabilised by protests from millions of China’s brightest young people.

In a country that is increasingly polarised between the haves and the have-nots, a university education is regarded as crucial for future success. For the children of China’s 700 million farmers, like Liu Wei, it is the only realistic route out of a life of backbreaking work for subsistence wages.

Miss Liu’s parents knew that, and encouraged her to pursue her dream. “She always wanted to go to college. She didn’t know what she wanted to do in the future, but she wanted to study,” said her mother Wang Shuxian. “I can’t read or write, so I wanted her to go too. I thought it would change her life. I thought it would mean she wouldn’t have to be a farmer.”

Mrs Wang has been mostly bed-ridden since her daughter’s death. She cries constantly as she talks in the main room of the stone-floored house that is the Liu family home in the village of Liu Hebei, 200 miles south of Beijing. Typical of farming villages across China, Liu Hebei is a collection of simple, brick-built houses, linked by dusty, narrow and unpaved paths, set in the flat, tree-less landscape of southern Hebei province.

Like all farmers, Mr Liu built his house himself. Close to the fields where the family grows cotton, it consists of just four basic rooms grouped around a small courtyard. An ageing Mickey Mouse calendar is the only decoration and, apart from some tatty furniture, a small television and an old DVD player are their principal possessions.

With his wife too distraught to talk much, it is her husband, a tall, dignified man with the tanned face and hands of someone who works outside, who fetches Miss Liu’s diary, a few photos and her exam certicates. They are all her parents have to remind them of their daughter.

They remain fiercely proud of her - although they will not reveal the name of their son, who works on a building site in neighbouring Shandong province, in case the stigma of her suicide affects his future marriage prospects.

“She was an excellent student. She won a scholarship to the best school in the county because of her high scores. It was a big honour for the family,” said Mr Liu. In her school graduation photo, Liu Wei stands in the third row, a serious-looking girl in a red shirt. By all accounts, she was a quiet, self-contained character. “She didn’t like to talk too much,” said her mother. “But she was always writing in her diary.”

By going to college at the provincial capital, Shijiazhuang, to study for a degree in computer science, Miss Liu was an exception in the village. “A lot of people were quite jealous that she went to college,” said Mrs Wang. “Most of the girls around here are married by the time they are 20, or they go off to be migrant workers.”

Her parents knew that sending her to college would place them under immense financial pressure. China’s government has overseen an almost four-fold expansion of higher education during the last decade, with the number of college students rising from 6.2 million in 1998 to just under 24 million last year. But even with 23 per cent of school-leavers now enrolling in universities and colleges, Beijing does not offer loans for poor students. It was up to the Lius to find the 9,000 Yuan (£800) a year tuition fees, and to give their daughter a living allowance.

With the farm earning the family a maximum of 15,000 Yuan (£1,340) a year, Mr Liu decided drastic action was needed. He took his son out of school and the pair of them went to Shanghai to work on a construction site to earn extra money, leaving his wife to run the farm. “We couldn’t afford to have two children at school and college,” said Mr Liu.

From the moment she began at university, Liu Wei was aware of the sacrifices her family was making to keep her there. In a diary entry from her first year, she recorded her desire to repay them. “My goal is to study hard, get a good job and provide for my family. If I cannot do that, then it is impossible to say that I have a good life,” she wrote.

Towards the end of her second year, she began job-hunting. Like most students, she started to attend the job fairs that take place between February and June. They are dispiriting occasions. At the Haidian District IT fair in Beijing this May, thousands of soon-to-be graduates crammed into an office building, thrusting their CV’s at overwhemed recruiters from companies around China.

Miss Liu’s experience of her first job fair in June 2008 was similar. “There were 10 times more students than there were companies,” she wrote. “After pushing through the crowds, I finally got the chance to speak to a human resources manager. But all he was looking for were sales and promotion staff, which isn’t suitable for me at all. I came home feeling very stressed.”

That failure left her utterly despondent. “I am a college student but I can’t find a job. How ashamed will I be when I have to go back to my village after I graduate?” Miss Liu wrote on October 9 last year. “I feel so tired. I want to keep sleeping and never wake up.”

Nine days later, her last diary entry consisted of three words: “Why so difficult?”

By December, her college friends were so worried about her that they called Mr Liu. When he went to visit her, he was shocked at both her physical and mental state. “She was very skinny, she hadn’t been eating properly,” he said. “It was only then that I realised how depressed she was.”

A short trip home seemed to revitalise her, although as usual she stayed silent around her parents. “She just said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m OK,’” said Mr Liu.

But then, a few days after returning to college for the spring term, Miss Liu disappeared. On January 23, just before the Chinese New Year, she drowned herself in a ditch near the long-distance bus station in the county where she was born, and from which she longed to escape.

The government has tried to quell rising anger among the soon-to-be graduates by offering them positions as teachers and low-level government officials in rural areas. But few seem keen to return to the countryside from which their degrees were supposed to guarantee an escape.

“A lot of the government jobs are more like volunteer work than real jobs. The salaries are so low they’re more like compensation than real pay,” said Chen Meijun.

Many students feel the authorities are not helping them in practical ways. “The government should be doing more, especially this year because of the financial crisis,” said Zhang Haigang, who is about to graduate with a degree in computer science from Harbin Industrial University.

“They should be providing more opportunities for us to get work experience. That’s what the companies which are still hiring want.” Although Mr Liu blames the teachers at Shijiazhuang College for not realising how fragile his daughter’s emotional state was, he refuses to criticise the authorities. But Liu Weizhang, an old family friend, is more forthright about the fate of the girl who only wanted to better herself.

“Should the country take some responsibility for Liu Wei’s death? I couldn’t say they don’t have any responsibility, because if she was born into a middle-class family her tuition wouldn’t have been a burden,” he said. “It’s very different in the countryside. It’s hard for a farmer’s child to go to college.”


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