Young Chinese: Confident in themselves and their country

By Yuan Ye and Wang Jianfen | | Updated: 2021-07-09 12:35
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Medical workers from the Peking Union Medical College Hospital are seen on their way to the airport to leave Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, while a volunteer in an accompanying car holds up a sign reading, "Thank you, capital. Because of you, Wuhan is not afraid", on April 15, 2020. During the COVID-19 outbreak, a total of 42,000 medical workers from across China went to Hubei province. The aid team from Peking Union Medical College Hospital was the last to leave the province. [Photo by Wang Jiaxing/China Youth Daily - China Youth Net]

A people-first generation

Of course, young people in China also have their own minds, with some influenced by such movements as environmentalism, feminism and new consumerism. They also have no shortage of followers on social media platforms – such as the influential Twitter-like Weibo. However, most believe existing channels are sufficient for solving their problems.

In November 2020, Chen Siyi, a student at Renmin University of China, wrote a letter to the president of the university requesting more portraits of female figures be displayed in the library. At the time there were portraits of Immanuel Kant, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and René Descartes, but not a single woman.

Ten days later, Chen received a reply from the president explaining why there were no portraits of famous women, adding there were plans to include those of Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Xie Wanying (penname Bing Xin), Li Qingzhao, Chien-shiung Wu and Ada Lovelace.

Not recognizing the last name, Chen immediately looked it up. She was surprised to discover Lovelace was the world's first "computer programmer" – a profession that has traditionally been male-dominated. On March 8, 2021, International Women's Day, after a campus-wide vote, a total of 16 women were selected for addition to the list of portraits, which are currently being painted.

Stories like these are not just taking place on university campuses. Chinese people have their own understanding of democracy.

They believe via various channels people could take part in the government's decision-making process, provide their insight and offer their supervision. They believe a whole-process consultative democracy is better than the parliamentary democracies featuring arguments and personal attacks.

This is in line with China's traditional value that "the people are the foundation of the nation". It also conforms with China's traditional emphasis on "harmony and equilibrium".

As early as the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), Mao Zedong put forward the idea of "serving the people," which remains inscribed at the heart of China's capital and is regarded by the CPC as its fundamental mission.

"Serving the people" is also the mantra of countless Chinese people today, which shows it is not just a slogan, but also an important principle in Chinese political life.

For example, the "12345 hotline" is a service platform for all levels of government in China. Citizens can speak with a customer service agent 24/7 to report or seek help on any issue, from sudden power outages to residential areas having fallen into disrepair, to community kindergartens not having sufficient slots.

No matter who makes the call, after filing a complaint, someone will contact them within a few hours to enquire about the specifics. Within a few days, the complainant will also receive follow-up calls to ask if the situation has been resolved and whether they are satisfied with the service. If they feel the service has not been satisfactory, they can call another hotline to complain.

On the other side of the phone, public officials are under considerable pressure — since not only is another department monitoring their problem-solving, but the number of complaints and resolved problems each month are publicly disclosed. If the resolution rate fails to reach 100 percent, the pressure will be even greater.

Serving the people, of course, also brings great pride: Chinese citizens present special velvet banners with gold lettering to public institutions that provided them help as a sign of gratitude and appreciation.

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