China’s “angry youth,” or fenqing, present a challenging phenomenon to both China and the outside world. These young men and women often use the Internet and other channels of political discourse to publicly express their critical views. Their hyper-nationalistic and often anti-American sentiments, which first emerged in the late 1990s and are widely disseminated today, stand in sharp contrast to a generation of Chinese youth just 20 years ago. What gives rise to the frustrations of China’s “angry youth?” How representative of China’s youth are fenqing? What implications does their existence have for the country’s political trajectory? How will the growing influence of China’s “angry youth” impact China’s foreign policy in years to come?
On April 29, the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings hosted an event on China’s “angry youth” to explore the characteristics of this unique segment of Chinese society – their views, values and behavior. Panelists discussed how policy decisions in the West might have triggered some of the radical reactions among the “angry youth” in China as well as the possible benefits of understanding China’s young generation. Kai-Fu Lee, president of Google Greater China, provided keynote remarks. Panelists Evan Osnos, Stanley Rosen, Teresa Wright and Xu Wu gave presentations. After the program, panelists took audience questions.