What is Lying Flat Lifestyle (tangping) in China?

The “lying flat” lifestyle (tangping) is a minimalist approach to work and life adopted by a segment of Chinese youth in response to bleak economic prospects and societal pressures.


The term “lying flat” originated in an April 2021 blog post titled “Lying Flat is Justice” by Luo Huazhong, who described quitting his job and embracing simple rural living. This resonated with many young Chinese struggling with unemployment, underemployment and burnout.

Economic Context

Lying flat emerges amid China’s economic slowdown, rising youth joblessness and soaring costs of living. College graduates especially face limited social mobility, insecure jobs and intense competition – prompting reevaluation of work ethics.

Key Tenets

Lying flat centres on working only enough to get by, then focusing time on rest, passions and wellbeing. It questions the reward from overwork and material pursuit in an unjust system. The approach aligns with a broader generational shift valuing work-life balance and mental health.

Government Response

Authorities have censored lying flat content online and urged youth to stay positive. Lying flat is seen as undermining state messaging on the importance of work and national development. Policy efforts to create jobs and boost entrepreneurship attempt addressing structural factors.

Social Implications

The lying flat phenomenon symbolizes Generation Z’s distinct pessimism on social mobility and future security compared to older generations. With over 280 million Chinese born after 1995, addressing their dissent and disengagement is an emerging policy challenge.


As economic prospects remain subdued, the lying flat attitude may persist among educated youth despite censorship. It represents passive defiance of top-down social contracts. Accommodating this demographic shift toward self-determination could necessitate reforms rebalancing growth and wellbeing.



Leave a Reply