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Weibo Users Discern Pro-natalist Propaganda in Sina “DINKs” Article
Weibo Users Discern Pro-natalist Propaganda in Sina “DINKs” Article

Weibo Users Discern Pro-natalist Propaganda in Sina “DINKs” Article

On April 14, Sina News Hot Topics published a lengthy article on Weibo under the clickbait headline “The First Batch of DINKs, Exposed: Where Are They Now, and Do They All Regret Not Having Kids?” The four-part article focused on ostensible profiles of DINK (“double income, no kids”) couples, most of whom were portrayed as either lonely, estranged, divorced, bitter, or regretful that they had never had children. Some of those profiled said that they had changed their minds and decided to have kids after all. Although the article purported to present both sides of the issue, both the language and content were strongly biased in favor of childbearing, as evidenced by this passage toward the end of the article: “Essentially, DINKs are gambling on the future—gambling that you can stick to your original intention, gambling that you can trust your spouse, and more importantly, gambling on the complex vagaries of human nature. Whether they choose a house filled with children and grandchildren, or a cloistered and childless life, people must eventually learn how to plan for themselves and their future.”

The article included a list of permutations of the Chinese term for “DINK” (丁克, dīngkè) to describe different types of DINKs:

“Die-hard DINKs” (铁丁, tiědīng): DINKs who have resolved never, ever to have children.

“DINKs in vain” (白丁, báidīng): DINKs who, for various reasons, later change their minds and regret their decision not to have children.

“The DINKed” (被丁克, bèi dīngkè): Involuntary DINKs who, for biological reasons, are unable to have children.

“Pet-parent DINKs” (丁宠, dīngchǒng): Those raising pets instead of children.

“Pseudo-DINKs” (伪丁克, wěidīngkè): Those who are young, unmarried, carefree, and unable to commit. [Chinese]

Sina News Hot Topics also launched a Weibo hashtag with the same title as the article, which sparked heated discussion and rocketed to the top of Weibo’s hot search list. But a large number of Weibo users expressed suspicions that the article and associated hashtag represented a thinly veiled attempt to discredit DINKs and spread pro-natalist propaganda. Many such critical and questioning comments by Weibo users were subsequently deleted. CDT Chinese editors archived some of these comments, a selection of which are translated below, before they were censored. Links have been added for context.

搞搞就是潘锆呐: Has the director of the Tiantongyuan “Weak Spot” Research Institute been sacked from his post and prosecuted? [Refers to a viral video in which low-level functionaries from the Tiantongyuan neighborhood of Beijing discussed how to intimidate a local resident by putting pressure on “his weak spot”—the man’s son.]

别忘了自己的墙头: I don’t even have to read this post to know that it’s trying to use DINKs to spur childbirth.

一枪穿心周泽楷楷: The birth rate is low, so you’re fucking using this sort of bizarre moral blackmail? Who the hell even knows where you dug up these “case studies”? You can propagandize forever, but unless you resolve the fundamental problem of the high cost of educating a child, it won’t make any difference. Why don’t the rich just have more kids?

难得看穿你心里那层雾: What the hell? Do you think this is going to increase the birth rate? Dream on. I’m a DINK myself.

真圆柚子: So? My uterus belongs to me. If I want to have a baby, I will, and if I don’t want to, I won’t.

再来一包无穷鸡翅根: What a noxious “hot topic”!

怼我者倒霉一辈子: People who don’t have kids aren’t selfish. They just don’t want their kids to end up as beasts of burden.

一点江花: Yeah, sure, we’ll hurry up and reproduce, so you have more of us chives to chop!

粉嘟嘟努米团子: Don’t have kids. Our generation knows from experience that the law isn’t going to protect us, let alone protect the next generation. If our own survival isn’t even guaranteed, how can we expect to protect our kids?

我有一个朋友临死前说: This article purports to be about personal freedom, but all of the examples are about people who regret their choices.

我的偶像孙立人将军: If I can’t see any hope in life, it’s better to be a DINK.

王佩宜3949: This is a uterus-duping, brainwashing article.

不怕淋雨的毒蘑菇: Apparently the birth raise is staying stubbornly low, so once again, they’re using DINKs as an object lesson.

爱你呦爱你呦爱你: When you do away with “996” schedules and double shifts, and truly implement the labor law, our lives will be happier, and we’ll naturally want to have kids. That’s better than exploiting workers by robbing us of our holidays in order to maintain your so-called “high-speed economic development.”

isqdhq520: Did they punish those old Tiantongyuan bastards?

盒饭_Petrichor: How can I support a child when I can’t even support myself?

王二小放牛真费劲: We don’t want to make more beasts of burden for the capitalists. [Chinese]

The Chinese government’s concerns about recent demographic trends—falling birth rates and a declining population—have fueled crackdowns on feminists and LGBTQ+ communities in China, and resulted in an uptick in incentives and propaganda intended to promote childbirth, but these have not resonated with many women and younger people. (For a deeper dive into how recent demographic, socioeconomic, and political changes have affected the rights and status of women in China, see CDT’s December 2023 interview with Leta Hong Fincher.) The phrase “Four Won’t Youth” (四不青年, sì bù qīngnián)—which describes young people who refuse to date, marry, buy a home, or have kids—reflects the profound social, economic, and political shifts underlying the decision not to pursue activities that were once considered prerequisites for adulthood. “Four Won’t Youth,” like other related terms (last generation, lying down, involution, Kong Yiji—all explained in more detail in our recent CDT Lexicon ebook), make the Party-state extremely nervous. A document thought to be from the Guangzhou branch of the Communist Youth League went so far as to call for an effort to transform these young people into “Four Will Youth”: willing to go out on dates, get hitched, purchase real estate, and procreate.