Like many young people from affluent middle-class families in Shenzhen, China’s tech and financing hub, Peng’s sister went abroad for graduate studies after earning her university degree in 2014. “At that time, my sister and my parents thought that an ideal career involved studying abroad and then working at a Hong Kong or Shenzhen investment bank in the fintech industry,” said Peng, a 20-year-old second-year university student in Guangdong.
But now, Peng says her parents are encouraging her to prepare for the national civil service exam, and her 30-year-old sister is already studying as well. “My parents now believe that the career prospects in both private and foreign companies are far inferior to working in government departments or government-backed organisations,” Peng said. “My father said he didn’t want me to study business or to study abroad because he felt that the private sector had become increasingly troublesome in recent years, with soaring operational costs and increased policy risks.”