Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Burdens of Youth

Over the weekend President Hu Jintao visited students at the China Agricultural University in Beijing and urged them to work hard with the country to build socialism with Chinese characteristics.

He said this in the lead up to the 90th anniversary of the May 4th Movement that was a nationalist movement started by Peking University students to overthrow feudalism and promote scientific and democratic ideas.

"First, I hope you will always uphold the banner of patriotism, as it is the spiritual backbone that has sustained the Chinese nation through all the tribulations," he said.

According to Hu, patriotism is promoting socialist modernization through reform and opening-up, building a well-off society, and turning the plan of rejuvenating the Chinese nation into a reality.

He then urged the students to study hard for their future as well as China's.

"Our country's modernization drive calls for a large number of high-quality professionals, and so long as you study diligently, you will become useful people for the nation's development."

In his final point, Hu instructed the students to devote themselves to society.

"I hope more students will voluntarily temper themselves at the grassroots level and work at places where the country and people need them most."

Sometimes Hu talks in very cryptic messages and it can be difficult to decipher exactly what he means, particularly in the first point.

Aren't most young Chinese patriotic? They were the ones who were enraged during last year's Tibet protests that dogged the Olympic torch relay, and later the ones who were affected most by the Sichuan earthquake.

Or is Hu concerned by large numbers of them trying to study abroad and having no intention of coming back?

In his second point, students can study as hard as they can, but especially for this year's graduates, it's going to be tough for them to find a job in this economic climate. They don't have the work experience or even the pertinent technical knowledge to do the job, as universities these days are churning out students to pay for heavy debts on their campus expansions in the past decade.

Nevertheless, Hu is also hinting that he hopes some of these graduates will head to China's interior and work in less-developed areas. While some have done that and tried to assist village heads in their bid to modernize, many of these young people have been relegated to the post of a secretary and have not been able to make a viable contribution thanks to politics. Many village chiefs aren't interested in hearing what a kid from the city has to say about improving people's livelihoods when they'd rather get government handouts.

The contradictions are so apparent that some young people have the foresight or skepticism to see this, while others learn through trial and error. Others wouldn't be caught dead graduating from a university and then roughing it in a poor area for little pay.

It puts these youth in a difficult position, wanting to help their country become better, and yet feeling completely helpless thanks to the system they're in.

Curiously though, Hu failed to mention anything further about fulfilling the May 4th Movement's mandate of democracy...


ks said...

young people nowadays have a tougher life with much more competition ,more complicated society. hope the chinese youth will follow the leaders advice strife ahead.

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Rina said...

I agree with the things you are saying here in your post. It's really good to know that there are still people around that cares for the children, especially when it comes to their education.

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