Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Why Some Chinese Are ‘Lying Flat’ and What That Means


After years of breakneck economic growth, things are slowing down in China, making it harder for strivers to get ahead. Some have decided to drop out of the rat race entirely, spawning a movement known as “lie flat.” Its adherents are tired of the stress that comes from working long hours and the family and societal pressure to keep climbing the ladder. Some see the phenomenon as a warning of impending Japan-style stagnation. Others argue it’s akin to 1960s counterculture movements, with young people seeking a less-demanding society that’s more focused on personal development.

It took off after a post -- since removed by censors -- on the Baidu Tieba social media platform titled “Lying Flat Is Justice” went viral in April 2021. “I haven’t been working for two years, and I don’t see anything wrong with this,” the author, going by the username Kind-Hearted Traveler, wrote. “Pressure mainly comes from comparisons with your peers and the values of the older generations. But we don’t have to follow them.”