Xi promotes Communist Party youth wing ahead of key congress | National policy

PA

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday promoted the role of the youth wing of the ruling Communist Party ahead of a key party congress later this year, amid growing economic and social pressures.

Addressing a gathering marking the centenary of the Communist Youth League of China, Xi said the body should “always be a vanguard force in mobilizing Chinese youth in a continuous effort.”

Despite strict anti-virus measures in the Chinese capital, the event saw hundreds of masked participants gather at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.

While relying heavily on traditional political formulas, Xi’s speech skirted contentious issues, including expectations that he will seek a third five-year term as party leader at the party’s congress later this year.

Although the party’s power remains unchallenged among young people, it faces a range of economic and social challenges and increasingly relies on extreme nationalism to rally support.

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Especially this year, China’s economy has taken a hit related to shutdowns and other disruptions caused by governments’ insistence on an uncompromising “zero-COVID” policy. This has increased pressures on employment, particularly on the country’s 11 million new university graduates, as well as some 280 million migrant workers, many of them young people from the countryside.

The implementation of the policy in China’s largest city, Shanghai, which included lockdowns tightened even as number of COVID-19 cases plummetedangered authorities, resulting in rare acts of defiance being posted online.

China is also facing a demographic crisis largely blamed on the old one-child policy that employed harsh measures to lower the birth rate and left China with about 35 million more men than women. The end of the policy and official encouragement for couples to have additional children has failed to stem the decline, with marriages and births reaching levels not seen in decades.

The specific role Xi envisions for the 73 million-member organization in the face of such challenges was unclear, other than instilling loyalty to the ruling party.

In his speech, he called on members to “build strong beliefs and strengthen their courage and skills to lead struggles”, saying they should be “patriotic and innovative, without being led astray or intimidated by difficulties”.

“Unswervingly following the party and striving for the party and the people is the original mission of the Communist Youth League,” Xi said.

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