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November 12, 2011

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Young people return to make the best of the city

JIANGXI Province native Xu Dan came back to Shanghai from a second-tier city early this year to better her career.

She chose to work in Nanjing three years ago after graduating from a Shanghai university to avoid the stiff competition and heavy home loan costs in the first-tier cities - Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

But she soon tired of the slow pace of life in Nanjing and grew anxious about lagging behind her peers in the big cities.

"The smaller cities are always imitating and following big cities," she said. "I wanted to come back to absorb more knowledge."

Like her, many university graduates who fled the big cities a few years ago are now heading back.

About 67.8 percent of people favor returning to the first-tier cities, according to an online survey.

Complex social relationships and soaring home prices in small cities are major forces driving people back to the big cities, according to the survey.

"Small towns and counties are not a Xanadu (a fabled city of opulence)," said Li Liang, a cartoonist.

"There are lots of construction sites, and pedestrians and vehicles ignoring traffic rules. Moreover, unfairness is more prevalent in the small towns," Li said.

Many young Chinese from less-privileged families say they are judged according to family background rather than ability, claiming offspring from wealthy families get the good jobs because of their parents' networking and wealth.

This phenomenon is apparently rife in small towns and cities. Though unfairness exists in big cities, they at least have greater opportunities, survey respondents said.

"If I was born in a rich family, maybe I would be satisfied with the easy life in small towns," Xu said. "But I have to push myself to work hard just to afford my apartment."

Because of high home prices in big cities, she bought an apartment with her husband in Jiangxi Province as an investment. But she will not move back there to live.

"I have suffered the disadvantage of being born in a rural village. I cannot let my children suffer the same loss," she said.


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