Young Chinese in new era confident, able to realize 'national rejuvenation': white paper
Young Chinese in new era confident, aspirant and responsible
Published: Apr 21, 2022 11:58 PM Updated: Apr 22, 2022 03:37 PM
Three men hold Chinese national flags at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Tuesday after the flag-raising ceremony. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

Three men hold Chinese national flags at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Tuesday after the flag-raising ceremony. Photo: Cui Meng/GT

China on Thursday released its first nationwide official document focusing on its youth in the new era, highlighting the historical achievements the country has made in youth development in the new era, the generation's amazing vibrancy and passion, and their arduous tasks and responsibilities for national rejuvenation. 

The document, titled "Youth of China in the New Era," was published by the Chinese State Council Information Office on Thursday. This is an official document issued on a special occasion ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Youth League of China (CYLC).

The white paper said that young Chinese people in the new era are confident, aspirant and responsible. They wholeheartedly support the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). With a global vision, they stand at the forefront of the times bursting with commitment: pursuing lofty ideals with a firm belief in Marxism, communism and socialism with Chinese characteristics; full of patriotism, sharing weal and woe with the country and the people.

They also display the sterling quality of living up to responsibilities, are the first in the country to worry about the affairs of the state and the last to enjoy themselves, and strive to be pioneers in, pacesetters for and contributors to the country's development.

Analysts said the Chinese young generation today enjoys much better conditions in terms of economy, education and technology, and their patriotism, global vision, openness, talents and confidence will help the country lead the international competition in the future. 

They noted that since the founding of the People's Republic of China, leaders of the country have attached great importance to youth work, as youth mobilization is a very important part of the work of the Party and the country.  

Now, youth work is valued even more highly by Chinese President Xi Jinping as the country moves forward to its second centenary goal, and the responsibility of the youth and the historical mission they shoulder are greater, they said. 

"Both history and reality tell us that when the younger generation has ideals and a sense of responsibility, the country will have a future, the nation will have hope, and there will be a steady stream of powerful forces to achieve our development goals," Xi said at a key meeting with outstanding youth representatives from all walks of life on May 4, 2013. 

In his speech addressing a ceremony celebrating the CPC centenary on July 1, 2021, Xi, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, emphasized that "In the new era, our young people should make it their mission to contribute to national rejuvenation and aspire to become more proud, confident, and assured in their identity as Chinese people, so that they can live up to the promise of their youth and the expectations of our times, our Party and our people."

China released its 1st white paper on China's youth: - The majority support socialism with Chinese characteristics - More than 5.5m young people have worked on the front lines against COVID-19 - Young people account for 50% of participants in the creative industries Graphic: Feng Qingyin/GT

China released its 1st white paper on China's youth: - The majority support socialism with Chinese characteristics - More than 5.5m young people have worked on the front lines against COVID-19 - Young people account for 50% of participants in the creative industries Graphic: Feng Qingyin/GT


Stronger sense of identity 

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, China has made historic accomplishments in youth development.

He Junke, first secretary of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China, elaborated on the economic conditions that have fostered momentous progress in the development of young people, their improved mental and physical health, and their access to education and employment.

The rapid development of cultural industries and public facilities has created an environment where young people can live a rich cultural life, He said at a press conference upon the release of the white paper on Thursday.

The official document cited a survey conducted in 2020 which showed that the majority of China's youth wholeheartedly supports socialism with Chinese characteristics, and are full of confidence about the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

For China's youth, commitment to the Communist Part of China is the most valuable experience, and the revolutionary traditions passed down are the most precious wealth accumulated over the past century, the document said. 

History shows clearly that without the CPC, the Chinese youth movement would have achieved little. Looking ahead to the new era, China's youth are embracing precious opportunities to realize their ambitions and display their talents, as they shoulder the important responsibility of building a great modern socialist country and realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.

Zhang Yiwu, a professor of cultural studies at Beijing's Peking University, told the Global Times on Thursday that with economic and social development in China, the young generation in the great new era stand on a broader platform and have received more advanced education, which facilitates them in "developing international vision, a confident and inclusive spirit, and more importantly, a strong sense of identity as a Chinese."

Last year, the CPC celebrated its centenary anniversary on July 1, but it still shines with young vitality, as more than a third of its 92 million members are under 40. In a special report the Global Times covered to mark the historical moment, it found that the 100-year-old Party still has appeal with the young cohort, as experts noted that the devotion many frontline medical workers, Party members and others showed to beat the pandemic has further consolidated young people's beliefs, because "it is an arduous fight that they lived themselves."

"A Party built by such great patriotism will never lose its appeal for young people," said 27-year-old Zeng Qing, a Chengdu resident who recently filed her application to join the Party.

According to the white paper, during the COVID-19 pandemic, young people have been risking their lives to combat this deadly disease. More than 5.5 million of them in 320,000 task groups have worked on the front lines of this combat, providing medical care, transporting supplies, and building facilities. They have made a tremendous contribution to the all-out war on the virus. Of the 28,600 nurses from the medical teams sent to Hubei, 90 percent were born between 1980 and 1999.

In recent years, a growing number of young people have taken part in charity and public-welfare activities, providing services in the communities, protecting the environment, conducting cultural programs, and offering elderly care and assistance to people with disabilities. They are also actively involved in politics and in China's application of whole-process people's democracy.

A recent questionnaire survey conducted by the Global Times found that most Chinese young people, especially Generation Z born in the 1990s and 2000s, now view China as more democratic than the US and Western political systems, which are no longer considered a "role model" of democracy, while Washington held a "summit for democracy" in a vain attempt to maintain its monopoly in defining "democracy."

Generation-Z was born in a time when China was in a rapid development and they could access knowledge and fresh information via various channels. A large proportion of them either went or studied abroad, during which time they have witnessed how "unbelievable, ridiculous and bizarre" Western governments are, for example, in facing the COVID-19 epidemic, as well as the "iron fist" of capitalism, Lin Chao, author of China's popular patriotic animation Year Hare Affair, told the Global Times. 

For them, the society and environment they live in tell them that patriotism is the prerequisite for looking at all problems. They don't look up to the West, and have realized that Western democracy is a democracy played by the rich. They know general elections under the Western political system do not guarantee the continuity of policies, while China's democracy, starting from the grassroots, represents the interests from the bottom up and ensures the policies' continuity, Lin said. 

Global vision

The document noted that China's youth stand ready to work with their counterparts from all over the world and contribute their wisdom and strength to building a better world and a global community with a shared future.

At present, many volunteer Chinese teachers, most of whom are young people, are working in more than 100 countries to help youth in other countries study Chinese culture. The China Youth Volunteer Overseas Service Program has sent more than 700 young volunteers to over 20 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America to provide services in areas such as medical care, agricultural technology, civil engineering, industrial technology, economic management, and social development.

Wang Huiyao, president of nongovernment think tank the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times on Thursday that the young generations of Chinese, whether they are the post-80s generation, post-90s generation or post-00s generation, have grown up along with China's growing global presence over the years. 

Compared with their parents and grandparents, the young generations of Chinese are proficient in foreign languages, better educated, and more innovative and culturally connected with the world, and have grasped international technologies and information as they grow up, Wang said. 

In a time when globalization is suffering setbacks from complex international factors, such as the Russia-Ukraine conflict and COVID-19 pandemic, the white paper's highlighting of Chinese young people's role is timely and more needed than ever, Wang said. 

The global vision, practice and environment, such as the unprecedented integrity of the industrial chain, enjoyed by the Chinese young generation puts them in a unique position. With this advantage, young Chinese will be able to shine in a new wave of globalization as it expands and deepens, Wang said. 

This confidence, patriotism, globalism, and multiculturalism has been fully showcased by the country's Generation-Z, such as 17-year-old snowboarder Su Yiming and 21-year-old short-track skater Li Wenlong, who grew up witnessing the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, and have taken on leading roles in the 2022 Winter Olympics' grand stage.

'Lying flat' generation?

The idea of low material desire, low consumption and refusal to work, marry and have children, dubbed as a "lying down" lifestyle, recently struck a chord with many young Chinese. But is China's young generation really one that is "lying flat"?

Chinese officials stressed that "China's generation-Z is not "lying flat," a euphemism for giving up on hard work, as is often claimed, and making unremitting endeavors and is still the mainstream of a group that believes success should be achieved through concrete efforts."

"Most Chinese youth hold an optimistic view of the future, and the saying 'lying flat' is more of a joke to release pressure and express their feelings," He Junke said at Thursday's press conference. 

China has attached great importance to deeper issues reflected by talk of "lying flat," which emerged because the young generation is subject to increasing pressure across work, study and life amid China's unique demographic structure and highly competitive labor market, Wang Huiyao said. 

In the face of important choices in life, young people show confusion, and sometimes lose their sense of direction and feel powerless, a phenomenon that is reasonable. In recent years, the country has stepped up its policy efforts to solve difficult problems in education, employment, marriage and child-rearing, and to help young people solve their urgent and anxious problems, he said.