“The Moonlight Clan,” a movement in Asia where young employees spend their entire salary each month

china spending habits

In several Asian countries, a phenomenon is becoming more and more common. It consists in spending the whole of one’s salary each month.

In several Asian countries, sociologists and economists are warning of the rise of a new generation of consumers. Young people under the age of 35 who are rather well off and have decided never to save anything and always to spend their entire salary. This movement even has a name: “The Moonlight Gang”.

This concept can be found regularly in traditional media or online platforms. This phenomenon is particularly present in China, but also in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. In China, the expression also has a double meaning.

For example, if “moonlight clan” is translated as it is in Mandarin, it also means “a group of people who spend everything they earn every month”.

More surprisingly, this phenomenon does not affect underprivileged young people who would not be able to finish their month end, but rather young executives, who have good salaries, around 2,000 dollars per month.

They spend everything on designer clothes, luxury goods, spa treatments, trendy restaurants and travel. They refuse to save, to hoard or to put aside money to buy an apartment that is too expensive per square meter anyway. It’s almost a philosophy. The exact opposite of what their parents did, who sacrificed themselves to save more and more.

An underlying trend

Recently, an online survey in Taiwan on the job search site Yes123 showed that 46% of young workers said they identified with this “moonlight clan” movement. A significant 26% of those surveyed said that they spend their entire salary every month, but in addition they were getting into debt to indulge themselves even more.

The macro-economic impact of this phenomenon on a national scale could be enormous, because, for example, these people do not buy houses or apartments. So the real estate market is going to have to adjust.

A large part of the moonlight clan will never have children. They have become accustomed to a life built around their person and do not want to “clutter up” with other humans. Already, there is a collapse of the birth rate in all these countries: Taiwan now has the lowest fertility rate on the planet.

Freed from Covid, Chinese rush to ski resorts

chinese ski resorts

After three years of health restrictions, Chinese ski resorts are packed for the winter school vacations. Chinese people are enjoying this return to life.

It is the effervescence at the entrance of the small ski resort of Nanshan, located in the mountains above Beijing. It’s hard to find an instructor because it’s so crowded. “The line to learn snowboarding is over here, skiing is over there! At the moment, all the teachers are taken”, explains an employee. If you accept an instructor with several students, it will go faster. But there’s still a 30-minute wait.”

A group of young people came from the Canton area. This is the first trip for them since 2020. Silin, in his 20s, only wants one thing, to finally enjoy life. “This is our first time snowboarding. We’re going to have a blast because we’ve been cooped up for too long. We haven’t traveled in three years,” she says excitedly. We are happy. If the health measures had been maintained, I think I would have ended up with mental problems.”

Twice as many skiers as in 2022

And indeed, the instructors are overwhelmed. “The number of people coming to learn to ski has more than doubled from last year,” says one of them. There are so many people at the resort right now, the crowds are everywhere! The ski market is really good.”

Skiing is a luxury sport in China, but no matter, this mom, who came from Beijing with her three-year-old daughter, plans to spend a lot this week. “Now we don’t wear masks when we go out. We feel very relaxed and relatively free,” she says. It’s true, skiing is expensive. The week will cost me between 4,000 and 7,000 euros. But my daughter is very happy.”

Just next door a dozen students are getting ready to climb into the chairlift. “We are very happy. We’re not locked in the university anymore. Snowboarding is so cool!” they enthuse. 

“We don’t have enough money to pay for lessons so we found videos on TikTok to learn the technique and today, it’s practice!”

A Chinese student confesses

And it doesn’t matter if the atmosphere is not really winter and the snow, 100% artificial, is present only on the slopes. The skiers are simply happy to find their favorite sport, after three years of deprivation.  

TikTok in China and the United States: pride for some, mistrust for others

tiktok china and the US

The US authorities were suspicious of TikTok, well before the irruption of this Chinese balloon in the American sky: the application is accused, across the Atlantic, of being a tool of espionage and propaganda in the service of Beijing.

Donald Trump, already, had made war on the social network, which has more than 100 million users. A text that prohibits the use of TikTok on the devices of officials in Washington has been voted and many states have also taken similar measures.

The CEO of the application will be heard in Congress, at the end of March a big oral that must give him cold sweats. As Donald Trump had wished, TikTok may well have to separate from its Chinese owner to continue to thrive in the United States.

In China, in Beijing, where the parent company is located, there is no communication on the subject. The information available is given by the American management of TikTok, assuring that the computer servers of the international version are physically separated from the parent company in China, and have been transferred to an American database management system, but according to the Chinese newspaper Caixin, which is generally well informed and enjoys a certain freedom of tone, part of TikTok’s data is still saved on the company’s servers in Singapore, i.e. not very far from China.

The management of TikTok assures that no data is transmitted to the Chinese government. But the social network still explains that all TikTok employees, including those in China, can have access to the data of American users, provided they have passed a series of very strict cybersecurity checks.

The Chinese government could also have access to this information, Bytedance, like all the giants of new technologies being theoretically subject to the control of Chinese authorities and the Communist Party.

New US protectionist attack on China

The U. S. Department of Commerce proposes to tax imports of Chinese aluminum foil heavily. A decision on steel is expected before mid-April.

Formerly assistant to the US Trade Representative for Asian markets in the 2000s, Wendy Culter warned: “We will see more trade action taken against some trading partners in the coming weeks. The announcement made two weeks ago on the protection of imports of washing machines and solar panels is just the beginning of a series of announcements to come.”

On Tuesday, the U. S. Department of Commerce recommended the introduction of high taxes on Chinese imports of aluminum foil. For dumping reasons, customs duties ranging from 49% to 106% are mentioned. These tariffs would be doubled by anti-subsidy taxes ranging from 17% to 81%, depending on the products. It will be up to the U. S. International Trade Commission, in a vote on March 15, to endorse these recommendations.

China will take the necessary steps to defend its legitimate rights.
The Chinese answer didn’t take long.” The United States failed to comply with WTO rules and seriously damaged the interests of Chinese exporters of aluminum foil. China is highly dissatisfied with this,” said Wang Hejun, head of China’s Trade Inquiries and Remedies Bureau of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

Endangered National Security

In April 2017, its trade secretary Wilbur Ross initiated an investigation to determine whether steel imports posed a threat to U. S. national security. The final report, presented in mid-January, clearly identified a threat. The US steel industry may find it difficult to respond to a crisis similar to that of the Second World War. Foreign suppliers account for one-third of U. S. steel demand, while 28% of domestic capacity is unused.

In aluminum, 91% of demand is imported, and 61% of US foundry capacity is untapped.

Commerce’s report proposes three scenarios for introducing taxes, quotas or a mixture of the two on imports of aluminum and steel. The Chair has until April 11 to rule on steel and April 19 on aluminum.

america china economic war

If U. S. President Donald Trump hits hard, we’ll take countermeasures.

It remains to be seen who will be targeted: China alone or other countries exporting their steel and aluminum to the United States. In Sofia, at an informal meeting of EU trade ministers on Tuesday, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström was very clear.

One thing’s for sure: the pressure is rising. New dumping and subsidy investigations increased by 60% during Donald Trump’s first year in office.

And in 2017, the United States again posted a deficit in trade in 2017 of 566 billion dollars. A record since 2008 due to the sharp rise in imports. China and Mexico, among others. An unacceptable trend for the president.