Babies, marriage, and WeChat


A summary of the top news in Chinese society and culture for August 15, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

Who is reading your WeChat messages?

They will still read your data if asked by the authorities.

Earlier this month, TechNode reported that Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant, was in a dispute with Chinese internet behemoth Tencent over the access to data on Huawei phones from Tencent’s popular messaging app WeChat.

On August 15, Ding Ke 丁珂, a vice president at Tencent, talked (in Chinese) to news media, saying that “it would be much easier” for Tencent than Huawei to store and read users’ chat messages, but the company has never done this. However, Ding also noted that Tencent still has the right to read users’ WeChat messages under certain circumstances, such as when asked by the police to assist with an investigation. This exception, though mentioned as a side point in Ding’s response, was at the center of controversy (in Chinese) among internet users.

Singletons protest being called a drag on the economy

It’s ridiculous to say that singles have fewer responsibilities. We are also obliged to take care of our parents. We also need to save money for future retirement. In fact, we have to work harder than others to keep the courage to stay single.

The South China Morning Post reports the Ministry of Affairs has said that “China’s ‘unwed’ population (those who traditionally would have been married by now in previous generations) reached 200 million by the end of 2015” — roughly equivalent to the entire populations of Russia and the U.K. combined. According to some analysts, the massive population of singles is damaging the country’s economy. “Singles have fewer social responsibilities than their married peers. They are prone to have a laid-back attitude that can easily turn into a lack of motivation at work,” said one analyst, who met with a barrage of criticism (in Chinese) from internet users.

Big city residents don’t want more kids

Shandong always takes the lead in responding to calls from the government. When the country wanted fewer children, it strictly enacted the policy of family planning. Now the country wants more, and it, again, responds well.

In 2016, the first year after the relaxation of the one-child policy, Shandong Province claimed the top spot in a ranking for birth rates with 17.89 new babies per thousand people, a 0.534 percent increase from the previous year. This is according to stats (in Chinese) collected by provincial statistical bureaus.

About 63.3 percent of the babies born in Shandong in 2016 were second children, a percentage that was 20 percent higher than the national average. The stats also illustrated a long-lasting trend, “The stronger a province’s economy is, the less willing the residents are to give birth,” which, as many internet users explained (in Chinese), is due to the high cost of raising a child in a major city. First-tier cities such as Shanghai and Beijing all fall near the bottom of the ranking.