onsdag 18. mai 2022

China’s Youth Are Changing. The Party’s Message Must Too.

For a century, China’s Communist Youth League has been a central pillar of the Communist Party’s power. Party leaders proposed setting up a socialist youth league to train up potential future members at the very first National People’s Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921. The organization began operating a year later. After the Communist Revolution, the League wove itself into the fabric of Chinese society, establishing cells in every school, university, and major enterprise in the country. As of December 2021, it had over 73 million members aged between 14 and 28.

Generations of Chinese have grown up attending regular Youth League meetings, where they study speeches by Party leaders, watch revolutionary films, and take part in other ideological activities. To this day, the Party views the League as its “reserve army” — a crucial tool for molding the nation’s youth into loyal patriots and socialists, and for identifying promising young organizers. Yet, 100 years after its founding, the League is struggling to stay relevant. Today’s young Chinese, born into a diverse, digitally connected world, are much less receptive to the organization’s methods than previous generations.