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“iSpeak China”: What Are Young Chinese Thinking About?

Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA: What are young Chinese thinking?

Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

From NetEase:

What are China’s young people thinking about?

In today’s China, the population of people 16 to 30 years old has reached 322 million but in the mainstream media, these ordinary young people’s thoughts and voices are often drowned out. British photographer Adrian Fisk traveled 12,500 kilometers and had a group of young people write down their thoughts on paper. Their future is also China’s future.

Rainbow Su. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“I’m currently worried about certain things. China’s girls are becoming materialistic. Without a house, my girlfriend won’t marry me. My parents aren’t able to help me either, so I want a high-income job. This is what I want.” Guangdong, Rainbow Su, 22 years old, software engineering student.

Chow Liang. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“In adults’ eyes I am a bad person in society, but in fact I am a very obedient person.” Gansu, Chow Liang, 17 years old, hair stylist student on way to see father who works in another province.

Lu Zheng Chui. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“After watching television I have many ideas, but am unable to realize them.” Yunnan, Luo Zheng Chui, 30 years old, farmer.

Li Nan Song. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“The Olympic Games proved that China is a powerful modern nation.” Yunnan, Li Nan Song, 21 years old, returned from migrant labor job, now wants to try and set up business trading local fungus.

Yan Long Long. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

(Illiterate) “When I go to the big city, I feel like I don’t know anything.” Gansu, Yang Long Long, 30 years old, farmer.

Song Jing Ping. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“When people leave their village to live in the city, it becomes very hard for them to go back.” Hubei, Song Jing Ping, 22 years old, migrated from 400 km away, runs two basic restaurants with her fiance.

Su Dong Ping. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“People care about money more than the past.” Guangdong, Su Dong Ping, 22 years old, works in a tea shop.

Feng Long. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“Why aren’t there any employers setting up factories in the countryside? We don’t want to work as migrant laborers.” Shanghai, Feng Long, 21 years old, first-time migrant laborer working on new building interiors.

Jell Zhu. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“I think it’s time for us to STAND UP FOR OURSELVES & be WHO WE REALLY ARE!” Guangdong, Jell Zhu, 22 years old, communications student.

Jia Jia. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“These days there are a portion of young people who are not very concerned with the development of China and the world, only caring about themselves, ignoring many of the people and matters around them.” Guangxi, Jia Jia, 25 years old, (day) mobile phone after sales service / (evening) self-studying marketing management / (night) professional nightclub dancer.

Jhoana Pan. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“I HATE the WEATHER in CHINA!” Guangdong, Jhoana Pan, 21 years old, international economic trading student.

Heng She Dong. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“I want to save people’s lives.” Qinghai, Heng She Dong, 16 years old, junior high school student.

Guan Ying Ni. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“City should be slow down. Country side should be speed up!” Shanghai, Guan Ying Ni, 25 years old, computer systems analyst.

Xu Ai Hua. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“I believe China’s economy will continue to develop forward.” Yunnan, Xu Ai Hua, 19 yars old, high school graduate.

Ma Xiao Lian. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

(Illiterate) “My husband and I want to become migrant laborers so we can work hard to make ourselves and our parents happy.” Qinghai, Ma Xiao Lian, 19 years old, farmer.

Jiang Min. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“I want to walk my own path, I don’t want other people telling me what to do.” Henan, Jiang Min, 24 years old, farmer.

Hu Lin Shuan. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“Living here, I feel frustrated!” Shanghai, Hu Lin Shuan, 27 years old, migrant worker as room service boy in hotel.

Qiang Chow. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“My dream is to one day be able to pilgrimage to the Potala Palace in Lhasa.” Qinghai, Qiang Chow, 25 years old, construction worker.

Liu Gu. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“If I have a sister would be better!” Beijing, Liu Gu, 26 years old, mobile phone hardware designer.

Meng Hai Lin. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“Why people must get married?” Beijing, Meng Hai Lin, 29 years old, mobile phone engineer.

Wong Jing Yi. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“I don’t want children!” Hong Kong, Wong Jing Yi, 30 years old, works in a sex toys shop.

Chan Jie Fang. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“I’d like to see any supernatural thing such as alien, UFO, mysterious thing.” Chan Jie Fang, 28 years old, supervisor in bag making company in Guangdong province but learning English in Guangxi province.

Lim. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“Do not judge China from the media, because the real China is not on the papers.” Beijing, Lim, 22 years old, political science student.

Li Qi Sheng. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“Huge cultural differences exist between the East and the West. Do not tell us what to do.” Guangxi, Li Qi Sheng, 30 years old, computer science teacher from Liaoning Province, currently studying English in Guangxi Province.

Ray Chuang. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“I want to associated with people from different cultures.” Guangdong, Ray Chuang, 20 years old, economic trading student.

Xiang Xue. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“I like English very much. I want to go on English. But I don’t much money. So I don’t to know what I will go.” Hubei, Xiang Xue, 18 years old, almost done with studies preparing to go to Shanghai factories for work.

Sarah Yip. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“Do whatever you want in your life. Because you might DIE tomorrow.” Hong Kong, Sarah Yup, 22 years old, investment bank receptionist.

Zhang Shuang. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“Right now I am really enjoying exploring China by myself.” Inner Mongolia, ZHang Shuang, 18 years old, traveling high school graduate from Liaoning province.

Avril Lui. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“We are the lost generation. I’m confused about the world.” Guangxi, Avril Lui, 22-years-old, post-grad student.

Wendy Xhang. Adrian Fisk's ISPEAK CHINA photo series featuring young Chinese sharing their thoughts on camera.

“Before I die, I want to see a united China. Both united with itself and with the world.” Great Wall of China, Wendy Xhang, 20 years old, law student studying in Canada.

Most of the above photos can be found on Adrian Fisk’s personal website. The overview for the “iSpeak China” photo series:

For the last few centuries the West has dominated economics, politics and culture. But now there is a shift towards the East, in particular China, a country of 1.4 billion people of which we know little about.

It is the young Chinese who will inherit this new found global influence, but who are they and what do they think about life.

I traveled on a 12500 km journey through China to find an answer to this question. I looked for young Chinese aged 16 – 30 years, gave them a piece of paper and simply told them they could write what ever they wanted to on the piece of paper, I then photographed them holding the paper.

The results are fascinating.

Comments from NetEase:

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请叫我天使 [网易浙江省宁波市余姚市网友]:

Is using Chinese going to kill you? You think you’re so niubi just because you know a few sentences of English?

wanze [网易四川省自贡市网友]:

When I saw that so many people used English to express their own feelings, I knew what this generation of youth is thinking.

My statement is: I and the wu mao cannot coexist under the same sky.

邪先生 [网易江苏省网友]:

I just want to eat without being poisoned, drink milk without being poisoned, be able to afford medical care, be able to afford having a child, not be 70 km/h’d when walking on the street…etc.

hjdufk [网易上海市网友]:

I want 10 wives, so I can sleep with whomever I want at night!

笑看残阳的猫 [网易吉林省长春市网友]:

[I want to] live with dignity.

小小小书童 [网易福建省泉州市网友]:

Very realistic, very lively, very vivid…

profjphoe [网易四川省宜宾市网友]:

He should see what the youth of the UK and USA are thinking.

网易四川省成都市网友 [chrdw0896]:

I see a lot of people who are angry with those who used English. This is a foreign journalist taking photos for the entire world to see, so of course they hope and it would be best to use English.

Students these days all have to learn English, and English currently is the world’s common language, so what is wrong with [them using English]? What more, the English they wrote were all relatively simple, the vocabulary probably only about middle school level.

fs某猫 [网易广东省佛山市网友]:

The different levels of the youths based on educational and geographic differences I think is still quite representative. We are a society in a state of change, and often I feel we are full of ideals but without the inadequate to rise to the task.

superhanliu [网易天津市网友]:

Those who used Chinese with one wrong character after another I think is not funny at all and instead very sad. Most of those who wrote in Chinese may be migrant workers. They normally don’t have to write and the work they do is all manual labor, dirty and tiring work. Aren’t all people, regardless of their profession, supposed to have their own cultural life? But obviously they don’t.

What are you thinking about?

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Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.