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Religion Catches Up in Atheist China


Published on: June 10, 2023 | Updated on: June 10, 2023

china economic condition uncertain, incense burning china youth, divine intervention for better economic conditions china,   Representational Image/AP

The deteriorating economic conditions have been prompting the young in China to make a beeline to Buddhist and Taoist temples seeking divine intervention in securing jobs, getting into better schools and becoming rich overnight.

After Covid, the reopening of markets in China was supposed to be encouraging and a stimulant that the world needed. However, after some burst of activity post-Covid, the growth in the world’s second largest economy appears to be stalling.

According to a report in CNN, data released this week showed Chinese exports fall 7.5% in May. Last month, factory activity contracted and youth unemployment also stood at a record high.

The economic uncertainty has propelled temple tourism to new heights, say economists and travel websites.

"No school-going, no hard-working, only incense-burning" has been a popular hashtag on social media since March. The youth have been trying to escape from the increasing pressures in the society by going to temples to pray for luck.

This year, "Incense-burning youth" has become the number one catchphrase in China’s tourism industry, according to a survey jointly conducted in April by Qunar.com, a travel website, and Xiaohongshu, an Instagram-like app, which looked at the top travel trends.

According to official statistics, the jobless rate for people between 16-24 years youth reached a record 20.4% in April. The youth unemployment rate could get even worse as a record 11.6 million college students enter the already tough job market this summer, as estimated by the education ministry earlier this year.

Surprisingly, China is officially an atheist nation but it recognises five faiths: Buddhism, Taoism, Protestantism, Catholicism and Islam.

Temple visits have surged this year more than fourfold from a year ago, according to recent data from Qunar and Trip.com, another travel site. About half of the visitors are people in their 20s and 30s, according to the sites.