With firm will, unwavering faith, young CPC members aspire to contribute to advancing historic mission of national rejuvenation
Published: Oct 19, 2022 11:01 PM
People take selfies with China's national flag while attending a flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square on October 1, 2022.Photo:IC

People take selfies with China's national flag while attending a flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square on October 1, 2022.Photo:IC

Editor's Note:

As 15 delegates to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) from the frontline stood in front of cameras on Sunday to take questions, some delegates, with their young faces brimming with confidence and strength, used witty remarks to present achievements in their professional areas, which impressed the audience. Yet they are just among the Party's more than 96 million members. The CPC celebrated its 101st birthday this year, but it still shines with young vitality; more than a third of members are under 40, and many more young people are keen to join.

How has the Party kept its sheen among its members? Does the passion for contributing to the Party remain strong in those youngsters? Are the young people in China ready to contribute to achieving the second centenary goal for China under the CPC leadership, which is to build China into a great modern socialist country in all respects and to advance the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization?

Born in 1990, Yu Ruofei, leader of the Gansu Blue Sky Rescue team, has devoted himself to rescue work for ten years, during which he has risked his life saving people in the devastating earthquake in Sichuan's Ya'an in 2013, an 8.1-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015 and floods in Myanmar in 2015.

Among his more than 370 rescue missions, a small episode in Nepal left Yu with the deepest memory. It was when he had to carry away the body of a victim that had been pressed upon by beams. "There were frequent aftershocks, and some of our team members were not experienced enough. So we were torn about how to go ahead," Yu told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"I also hesitated. But being a Party member, I must stand up." When he finally carried out the body, Yu was welcomed by a huge applause from the crowd. "Standing up to help when people are in trouble is the best embodiment of the responsibilities on the shoulders of Party members. So I took their applause as affirmation of the Party member's ability, as well as responsibility, which I am so proud of," said Yu.

After he joined the CPC in 2014, Yu was selected as a delegate to the 20th CPC National Congress. When standing under the spotlight, in front of cameras at the venue for delegates on Sunday, Yu, dressed in the blue uniform of Blue Sky Rescue, said that during the revolutionary age, countless young Party members sacrificed themselves for their initial mission when joining the Party.

"This spirit has been spurring the youth of today to keep fighting," said Yu. "I am responsible for contributing my efforts to make the country stronger. We will fulfill the promise of youth with our actions."

Although the Party celebrated its 101st founding anniversary in July, it still shines with young vitality. The CPC had more than 96 million members at the end of 2021, more than one-third of whom were below 40 years old, and student Party members accounted for 3 percent of the total.

The average age of the 2,296 delegates to the 20th CPC National Congress is 52.2 years. Among them, 1,371 delegates, or 59.7 percent, are below 55 years old, and 18.9 percent are below 45 years old, the official data showed.

In a report delivered to the 20th CPC National Congress on behalf of the 19th CPC Central Committee on Sunday, Xi Jinping said that a nation will prosper only when its young people thrive. China's young people of today are living in a remarkable time. They have an incomparably broad stage on which to display their full talent, and they have incomparably bright prospects of realizing their dreams.

Spirit inherited

The special bond between youth and the Party can be traced back to the anti-imperialism and anti-feudalism struggles in the early 20th century.

The May Fourth Movement, that started with mass student protests on May 4, 1919, is widely considered a great patriotic and revolutionary campaign pioneered by advanced young intellectuals and joined by people from all walks of life to resolutely fight imperialism and feudalism.

It was a time when young people risked their personal safety and their lives to help the country when it suffered from peril of imperialism and feudalism. Several delegates at the congress, including Yu, believed that the spirit to fight for a better life for people is still strong among young Party members.

"We are living in a time when people are so much better off than those revolutionary martyrs and some of China's Generation-Z have already become part of the backbone force in our society. For example, young village officials have led their villages out of poverty. This proves young people's vigor and ability," Yu noted.

Born after 1990, Li Min, Party secretary of Shuangdang village in Jiangsu had a thorny childhood after she lost her arm during an accident, which made it hard for her to find a job. Five years ago, she was selected as Party chief of Shuangdang village, with more than 900 households. Being savvy about e-commerce, Li began to encourage her fellow villagers to engage in this area. Since then, 400 households in the small village have engaged in e-commerce, and many have escaped poverty as a result.

The young cohort in China have witnessed China rapidly rising to the central stage of the world, but they also realized that they have new tasks and a new role in contributing to the country, said Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University. He noted that this realization has made youngsters in the country willing to take on the unique historical task of achieving the country's second centenary goal, adding that they also have firm faith and confidence in the country.

Cheng Ke, a 32-year-old Party member who works in a Chengdu chip company, has closely studied the report Xi delivered to the 20th CPC National Congress on Sunday.

"People in our industry have been warned of 'dangerous storms' and we are fully prepared," Cheng said.

Cheng was referring to attempts by the US and a small number of other Western countries to crack down and hold back China's technological development. In a recent move, the US government released a broad set of technology export controls, including what was said to be the "harshest" ban on shipments to China of certain semiconductor chips made with US equipment.

But the young worker has found his calling, which illustrates the history from 1915 to 1921, including the New Culture Movement, the May Fourth Movement and eventually the establishment of the CPC, as documented in the popular TV series Juexing Niandai (Awakening Age).

"Like us, those revolutionary ancestors also faced outside threats and internal struggles. Back then, few believed the Party had a future and now some in the US think they can singlehandedly cut off China's road to technological development. But what they all miss is the strong will of Party members," said Cheng. "Even during that dark time, there were passionate young people struggling to find light for the country. The CPC founders made it when they established the CPC; we will also make it when we say we will achieve self-reliance in technology."

Children in Tongjiang county, Sichuan paint pentastars on the tombstones of revolutionary martyrs on March 30, 2022.Photo:IC

Children in Tongjiang county, Sichuan paint pentastars on the tombstones of revolutionary martyrs on March 30, 2022.Photo:IC

Unfading faith

Some are also wondering how the Party has maintained its appeal to a group who grew up in peace, showered with the country's booming economic and social development, and who are the cohort most exposed to the West.

On a cold morning in mid-October, 36-year-old Zhang Xiujun arrived at Tian'anmen Square at around 3 am to watch the flag raising ceremony held at the Square. "On my way there I saw a huge line in front of the gate. People coming from all over China gathered for the flag-raising ceremony. Their enthusiasm warmed up the chilly morning," Zhang, who came to Beijing from Lutong in East China's Hangzhou, told the Global Times.

Zhang said that getting up at midnight to witness the flag raising ceremony at Tian'anmen Square shows the faith that is engraved in CPC members' bones. "The pride of seeing the gleaming national flag at Tian'anmen Square is beyond words. My pride at being born in this country rose up with the flag," Zhang said.

A survey conducted by China Youth Daily in September 2021, which included 2,064 young people, found that 97.7 percent of respondents believe the spirit of the CPC is the soul of the Chinese nation, and the spirit of the Long March, the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) and "Two Bombs, One Satellite" ("Two Bombs" refers to the atomic bomb and later the hydrogen bomb and the ICBM, while "One Satellite" refers to the artificial satellite) were regarded by the majority of respondents as the most inspiring spirit among all.

Bai Jing, a thirty something official from the procuratorate in Inner Mongolia told the Global Times that she joined the Party in 2004 after she witnessed how Party members fought bravely during the fight against SARS in 2003.

"There was a news article at time, saying those CPC members were like beams of light. I wished I could be that light, so I joined the Party, hoping to be a person like them," said Bai.

A great and glorious party is what every youngster who pursues progress would yearn for, Li Molan, a doctoral student majoring in Marxism in a Chinese university in East China's Jiangsu, told the Global Times.

Li joined the Party ten years ago. He said that this long journey helped him realize that the "hearts and minds of people" matter most to the CPC, and what differentiates the CPC from other political parties is its devotion to "serving the people and winning their heart."

The Party has been a core force for the country's progress for the past 100 years, and this remarkable history has strong appeal for ambitious youngsters, said Zhang, noting that Chinese youth see their country growing more and more prosperous under the Party's leadership.

This means they want to be part of it, so that they can also contribute to the country, he said.