“WE ARE THE last generation.” As news, released on January 17th, that the country’s population had fallen last year for the first time in decades swept Chinese social media, some commenters used these doom-laden words. They have a special resonance in China. During a weeks-long lockdown in Shanghai last year to prevent the spread of covid-19, an angry resident spat them at a hazmat-suited policeman who had warned him that punishment for violating pandemic-control rules would affect the young man’s family for three generations. The retort, captured on a mobile phone, quickly went viral. Now, as its meaning truly sinks in, some are recalling it.